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Violent and Sex Offender Register

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In the United Kingdom, the Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR) is a database that can be accessed by the Police and some Probation Service personnel. The database holds records of those required to register with the Police under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, those jailed for more than 12 months for violent offences, and unconvicted people thought to be at risk of offending.

The requirement to register was originally imposed by the Sex Offenders Act 1997. The 1997 Act was amended by the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 to include the requirement to notify police of any foreign travel arrangements. The 1997 Act was repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which completely reimplemented the provisions of the 1997 Act.

In addition to name and address records, the database also holds photographs, the risk assessment for each offender, their modus operandi, and an audit trail. ViSOR is also linked to the Police National Computer.

Sex offenders subject to the register must inform the Police within 3 days of moving home or changing their name, and confirm their registration annually, or face up to five years in prison.

Construction of the ViSOR application began in January of 2003, with a first release of functionality to a pilot site November 2003. The system was subsequently rolled out to a further three pilot sites during early to mid 2004. National (UK) rollout began November 2004, and was completed April 2005. For a government IT project this appears to have been considered a relatively quick and successful development and deployment.

ViSOR is now in use across all 52 Geographic police forces in the UK. Plans are now being considered to rollout full system access to Probation and Prison services.

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