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.