Communities and Justice

High risk offender management

Summary of reform

In December 2017, changes to the High Risk Offenders Scheme were made to better protect the community from high risk sex and violent offenders who pose an unacceptable risk to the community at the end of their sentence.

Key changes

  • Community safety is the paramount consideration of the court when deciding whether to issue a Continuing Detention Order (CDO) or an Extended Supervision Order (ESO).
  • The test for making a CDO has been strengthened so an offender’s risk to the community is considered, instead of whether they can be adequately supervised
  • A greater number of offenders are now eligible for a CDO or ESO as
    • the court considers an offender’s criminal history and future risk of serious sex and violent offences, instead of only one of these categories of offence
    • the Scheme has been extended to include more sex offences committed under Commonwealth legislation.
  • Registered victims have a stronger voice and greater flexibility in how they provide information to the Supreme Court.
  • There is a stronger focus on reforming offenders whilst they are in prison.

Related information


There is only a small number of high risk sex and violent offenders in NSW, but their crimes have a significant impact on victims, victims' families and our communities.

This reform is the outcome of the NSW Government's 2016-17 review of the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Act 2006 and will help deliver tough and smart justice for safer communities.

Expected benefits

The high risk offender reform is expected to:

  • provide the community with greater protection from high risk offenders
  • enable earlier identification and targeting of high risk offenders who may be subject to a CDO or ESO, to encourage participation in rehabilitation programs to reduce reoffending.

How the scheme works in practice

CDOs and ESOs will continue to be used to manage high risk sex and violent offenders through either continued detention in a correctional centre or extended supervision by Corrective Services NSW in the community. These Supreme Court orders can apply for up to five years after an offender's sentence expires. The Supreme Court is empowered to make further orders against offenders who are found to present an ongoing, unacceptable risk at the end of their sentence.

As of October 2017 there were 87 high risk offenders subject to an ESO and two subject to a CDO (with an additional two offenders on interim orders).

Continuing Detention Orders (CDOs)

CDOs allow for high risk offenders to be imprisoned in a correctional centre after their sentence expires. When deciding whether to make a CDO, the Supreme Court must consider whether the offender presents an unacceptable risk of committing either a serious sex or violent offence if they are released.  Before the reforms, the Supreme Court was only required to consider whether the offender could be adequately supervised in the community.

Extended Supervision Orders (ESOs)

ESOs allow for the strict supervision of high risk sex and violent offenders in the community by Community Corrections Officers. Supervision conditions can include: electronic monitoring, restrictions on who offenders associate with, where offenders go, regular reporting to an Community Corrections Officer, and participation in rehabilitation programs.

Making an order to detain or supervise an offender

When making an order against an offender, the Supreme Court considers detailed risk assessments by psychologists as well as statements from victim/s, the offender's behaviour while in custody, and participation in rehabilitation programs.

A stronger voice for victims and their families 

To support the victims of crimes, changes to the Corrective Services NSW Victims Register will enable more victims to be informed when a relevant offender is being considered for a CDO or ESO application. This will give more registered victims the opportunity to provide a statement to the Supreme Court (in writing or orally), to ensure that they are heard. In cases where the victim is deceased, victims' families will have the right to make a statement.

A stronger focus on reforming offenders

Offenders who may be subject to the Scheme will be identified and informed earlier. Advising offenders earlier that they may be subject to a CDO or ESO at the end of their prison sentence encourages participation in rehabilitation programs to reduce reoffending.

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Last updated:

31 Aug 2023