The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has shortened the timescales in which ex-offenders are legally required to declare certain criminal convictions to employers. It does this by reducing the period of time after which these offences become ‘spent’, which means that the person is rehabilitated and the conviction no longer needs to be declared. These new laws came into force on 28 October 2023 (and apply to convictions before, on and after that date).
The required disclosure of serious violent, sexual, or terrorist offences has not changed – these convictions cannot ever be ‘spent’ and must be disclosed. Individuals seeking employment with children or vulnerable adults are also subject to stricter disclosure rules.
However, for less serious offences, the rehabilitation periods have been shortened. Previously, any custodial sentence of over four years could not become ‘spent’. Now, convictions will be ‘spent’ seven years after the individual’s release (as long as they have not committed any further offences in that time).
In full, the new rehabilitation periods – after which the relevant conviction will become ‘spent’ and no longer needs to be declared – are as follows:
New Rehabilitation Period
(Adult) Community Order /
Youth Rehabilitation Order
The last day of the order
Custody of 1 year or less
Custody of more than 1 year and up to 4 years
Custody of more than 4 years
7 years (excluding certain serious violent, sexual and terrorism offences, which cannot ever be ‘spent’)
If the individual is/was under the age of 18 at the time of the conviction, these rehabilitation periods are halved. If the individual re-offends within the rehabilitation period, these rehabilitation periods will be extended.
“Employers should take note of the new rehabilitation periods and consider whether any of their internal recruitment documents need to be updated accordingly.These changes are part of the Government’s drive to reduce re-offending (which it estimates costs tax-payers £18 billion each year); they are aimed at breaking down barriers for ex-offenders and helping them get the steady income, routine and purpose they need. Thousands of people with previously unspent convictions will be affected.”
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