Spent Convictions

On 10 March 2014, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was amended to reduce the time that must pass before ex-offenders can claim to have a clean record.

Where an offence is “spent” the ex-offender will be treated as though he never committed it, and he is consequently not obliged to inform prospective employers of it, even if asked a direct question on the point.

The following now apply:-

  • Prison for 4 years or a public protection sentence for certain sexual and violent crimes – conviction will never become spent.
  • Custodial sentences of 2 and a half to 4 years – spent 7 years from the date the sentence is completed.
  • All other custodial sentences and fines – spent after 1 year.

The Act also provides that there will be no rehabilitation period for individuals who received an absolute discharge, meaning that such a conviction need never be disclosed in normal circumstances.

Note that it is unlawful to reject someone for a job because he has a spent conviction. However, if the role requires a criminal record check and this reveals the applicant is unsuitable for the job due to a spent conviction the employer may remove the job offer. Roles falling within this category include medics, lawyers, person working with children and jobs involving the protection of national security.


Deaf, hubby to Rachel, dad to Corey, Libby and Emily, Solicitor, Lecturer in Legal Practice at University of South Wales, PhD student at University of Leicester.

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