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Spent convictions: Criminal record disclosure timescales reduced

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By Zoë Wigan, Hilary Larter and Ceri Fuller

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Published 07 November 2023

Overview

The period of time for which ex-offenders are required to declare offences reduced for some offences.

The facts

Some criminal offences become "spent" which means that, after a set period, the offence no longer has to be declared to employers, and the perpetrator is rehabilitated.  

The government has reformed the relevant legislation to reduce the rehabilitation period for less serious offences, provided no further offence is committed.  The reforms have also introduced a rehabilitation period for custodial sentences of over four years, which would not previously have been spent. 

The reforms do not apply to serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences which will never be spent.   

The new rehabilitation periods are set out below.  For offenders who are under 18, half the adult rehabilitation period applies. 

Sentence

New rehabilitation period

(Adult) Community Order/Youth Rehabilitation Order

The last day on which the order has effect

Custody of one year or less

One year

Custody of more than one year and up to four years

Four years

Custody of more than four years

Seven years

What does this mean for employers?

These changes came into force with effect from 28 October 2023. Stricter disclosure rules will continue to apply to jobs that involve working with vulnerable people, through standard and enhanced DBS checks. Employers will need to amend any internal documents and guidance to reflect the changes.

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