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Recent Appeal Case Has Clarified The Criteria For Imposing a Lifelong Restriction of Liberty Order

A lifelong restriction of liberty order (OLR) is a lifelong sentence and if an OLR is imposed the individual will be placed on a risk management plan for life. Over the past 15 years around 200 OLRs have been imposed.

For a judge to impose an OLR it is the risk that the individual presents to the public that is taken into consideration and not the crime itself. An OLR is imposed post-conviction and prior to this a risk assessment report will be carried out. 

In the recent case of AB v HM Advocate [2021] HCJAC 43 an appeal was carried out in relation to an OLR being imposed. The appellant had been convicted of 11 charges which involved abduction, assaults, threatening and abusive behaviour and stalking. The charges involved abuse against the appellant’s partner and his ex-partner. 

Two experts produced risk assessments and the conclusions drawn were different in each. The judge relied on the risk assessment which considered the appellant high risk. The note of appeal stated that the appellant was not an ‘exceptional offender’. 

However, the court made clear that the test which must be met is set out in s 210E of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. The test sets out that: ‘the risk criteria are that the nature of, or the circumstances of the commission of, the offence of which the convicted person has been found guilty either in themselves or as part of a pattern of behaviour are such as to demonstrate that there is a likelihood that he, if at liberty, will seriously endanger the lives, or physical and psychological wellbeing of members of the public at large’. 


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