New Rules on the Disclosure of Criminal Convictions

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The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 introduced statutory rehabilitation periods 40 years ago which provided that where an ex-offender has not re-offended for a determined period of time based on the nature or length of their conviction, they are considered to be rehabilitated and therefore could present themselves to a potential employer as someone who has never been convicted. So for example a custodial sentence of between zero and six months had to be disclosed for seven years before it was considered to be “spent”.

The rehabilitation periods included in the Act have been criticised as being too harsh and result in ex-offenders finding it difficult to obtain employment. On 10th March, 2014, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 came into force with the following revised rehabilitation periods:

TermNew Period
Up to 6 monthsPeriod of sentence + 2 years
6 months to 30 monthsPeriod of sentence + 4 years
30 months to 4 yearsPeriod of sentence + 7 years
Over 4 years Never spent
Community/Youth Rehabilitation OrderPeriod of sentence + 1 year
Non-custodial fineOne year from date of conviction
Conditional discharge, referral order, action plan order, supervision order, bind-over order or hospital orderPeriod of order

There are still a number of specific roles that are excluded from the Act and for which employees must be asked to disclose or “spent” or “unspent” cautions and convictions. For further information: click here.

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