Post-Sentence Preventive Detention: Dangerous and Risky

21 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2015 Last revised: 4 Jun 2015

See all articles by Heather Douglas

Heather Douglas

The University of Queensland - TC Beirne School of Law

Date Written: 2008


Sexual offences prevention orders were introduced in the United Kingdom in 2003. These civil orders were designed to limit and monitor the behaviour of particular individuals in the interests of public protection. At the same time, legislation was introduced that allowed the imposition of a life sentence or an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP). While these developments were taking place in the United Kingdom another draconian development was taking place in Australia. In 2003, the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act (DPA) was introduced in Queensland. This was followed by the introduction of similar regimes in Western Australia (the "DSO") and New South Wales (the "CSO") in 2006. These legislative regimes provide for the preventive detention or, alternatively, ongoing supervision of "dangerous sexual offenders" at the expiration of their sentence. Between 2003 and 2007, applications were made in relation to 45 individuals in Queensland. From 2006 to 2007 applications were made in relation to 8 individuals in New South Wales and 10 in Western Australia. Almost always, applications result in either a detention or long term supervision order being granted. This article explores the operation of the Australian preventive detention regimes for sexual offenders and discusses the ongoing concerns about the regimes. Post-sentence preventive detention does not, at this stage, apply to sex offenders who have completed their sentence in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless the development of such regimes seems possible, especially given the wide powers that now exist for the detention of terror suspects without charge and a continuing focus in recent literature on what an appropriate preventive detention model might look like, not whether such regimes should be developed. The Australian experience provides an instructive example for those in the United Kingdom considering such regimes.

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Douglas, Heather, Post-Sentence Preventive Detention: Dangerous and Risky (2008). The Criminal Law Review, 2008 11: 854-873, 2008; University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law Research Paper No. 15-33. Available at SSRN:

Heather Douglas (Contact Author)

The University of Queensland - TC Beirne School of Law ( email )

The University of Queensland
St Lucia
4072 Brisbane, Queensland 4072

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