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Reforms to Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 - spent convictions

15 March 2014

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 provides that, subject to certain exceptions, those convicted of a criminal offence, who do not re-offend during a specified period, are deemed ‘rehabilitated’ and their convictions become “spent”. An employer is not entitled to details of spent convictions unless the individual is in an excepted occupation or works with children or vulnerable adults or in other excepted roles such as those relating to national security. In those circumstances, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks will be required; standard, enhanced or enhanced with list checks, as appropriate.

On 10 March 2014, amendments to the 1974 Act (made by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) came into force. These changes do not affect the requirement for DBS checks to be carried out in schools.

Rehabilitation periods in respect of custodial sentences are now calculated from the date of completion of a sentence (rather than the date of conviction) and the periods are significantly lower. A summary of the changes is set out below:

New rehabilitation periods for adult offenders

Sentence Current rehabilitation period New rehabilitation period
Custodial sentence over 4 years or a public protection sentence (a custodial sentence for specified sexual and violent offences) Never spent Never spent
Custodial sentence (over 2.5 years and up to 4 years) Never spent 7 years (from completion of sentence including any period on licence)
Custodial sentence (over 6 months and up to 2.5 years) 10 years (from conviction) 4 years (from completion of sentence including any period on licence)
Custodial sentence (up to 6 months) 7 years (from conviction) 2 years (from completion of sentence including any period on licence)
Fine 5 years 1 year
Absolute discharge 6 months No rehabilitation period


New rehabilitation periods for young offenders (aged under 18 at date of conviction)

Sentence

Current rehabilitation period

New rehabilitation period

Custodial sentence over 4 years or a public protection sentence (a custodial sentence for specified sexual and violent offences) Never spent Never spent
Custodial sentence (over 2.5 years and up to 4 years) Never spent 3.5 years (from completion of sentence including any period on licence)
Custodial sentence (over 6 months and up to 2.5 years) 10 years (from conviction) 2 years (from completion of sentence including any period on licence)
Custodial sentence (up to 6 months) 3.5 years (from conviction) 18 months (from completion of sentence including any period on licence)
Fine 2.5 years 6 months
Absolute discharge 6 months No rehabilitation period


Jennifer Cooper
Barlow Robbins