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Spent Convictions

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 provides that, after certain amounts of time have elapsed, people that have been convicted of criminal offences who have served their sentences (subject to some significant exceptions) are not obliged to disclose those convictions. The legislation sets out the amount of time after which a particular type of offence is regarded as “spent”.

Subject to a number of exceptions once the conviction has become “spent” the person convicted of that offence is regarded and treated as a person that has not been charged or committed such an offence. At that point such a person is not required to disclose details of any such offence or conviction. So on any job application or in any job interview that person is entitled to disregard any spent convictions. The failure to disclose a “spent” conviction is not a fair reason for dismissal.

Some offences are never treated as “spent” –

  • Any offence resulting in imprisonment, custody or detention for life in prison
  • Any offence resulting in imprisonment, youth custody, detention in a young Offenders Institution exceeding 30 months.

Other offences effectively become spent over a period between 6 months and 10 years.

The periods before which a conviction is "spent" will change from the 10th March 2014, effectively reducing (in most cases) the period before which a conviction becomes "spent". The basis of calculation will change, using a formula based on the period of the conviction followed by a set additional period, which will be dependant on the duration of the original custodial sentence or the nature of other forms of penalty imposed by the court (see our News Article dated 28th February 2014 for details).  

Excluded professions and occupations from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Solicitors
  • Barristers
  • Midwives
  • Dentists
  • Accountants
  • Teachers
  • Police officers
Everyone involved in schooling, training, care, leisure and social care of people under 18 years old.

 

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