Rehabilitation of Offenders & Changes to Spent Conviction Rules

IN THIS SECTION

Section 193 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, which came into force on 28 October 2023, introduces significant amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA).

These amendments aim to reduce the periods of time after which certain offences become ‘spent’ and no longer need to be disclosed by an individual to an employer.

The changes will not impact jobs which require basic or enhanced DBS checks.

 

Changes to spent conviction disclosure rules

The following changes on declaring custodial convictions now apply:

Reduction of Rehabilitation Periods: Section 193 reduces the rehabilitation periods for a range of offences, including theft, fraud, and motoring offences. For example, the rehabilitation period for a theft conviction of up to £200 is now two years, compared to seven years under the previous regime.

  • Spent Offences Table: Section 193 introduces a new Spent Offences Table, which categorizes offences and specifies their respective rehabilitation periods. This table provides clarity and consistency in determining when offences become spent.
  • Discretionary Disclosure: Section 193 grants employers discretion to request disclosure of certain spent convictions where they consider it relevant to the job role. This applies to offences involving dishonesty, violence, or child protection.
  • Protections for Offenders: The amendments provide safeguards for offenders, ensuring that they are not unfairly disadvantaged by the disclosure of spent convictions. Employers must have a clear and justifiable reason for requesting disclosure and must consider the proportionality of the request.

 

Type of conviction Previous length of time required to disclose New length of time required to disclose
Custodial sentence of over 4 years Never spent 7 years although certain offences are exempt and never spent including offences classified in the Sentencing Code as ‘serious violent, sexual and terrorism offences’
Custodial sentence of 2 ½ years – 4 years 7 years 4 years
Custodial sentence of 1 – 2 ½ years 4 years 4 years
Custodial sentence of 6 months – 1 year 4 years 1 year
Custodial sentence of up to six months 2 years 1 year

 

The new time periods apply only to offenders who are over 18 at the time of conviction. Shorter periods of required disclosure apply where the offender was under 18 at the time of conviction.

 

Reoffending & new offences

New convictions will attract their own disclosure period. Both the previous conviction and new conviction need to be declared until the end of the original conviction’s active period or, if later, the end of the new disclosure period applied to the more recent conviction.

The new time periods will be extended in relation to any re-offence during the declaration period.

 

Impact on employers

The amendments introduced by Section 193 have several significant implications:

  • Reduced Disclosure Burden: Offenders will benefit from the reduced rehabilitation periods, meaning that their past convictions will become spent sooner, reducing the burden of disclosure and potentially opening up employment opportunities.
  • Fairer Recruitment Practices: Employers will be able to make more informed recruitment decisions based on an individual’s current circumstances and suitability for the role, rather than being solely influenced by past convictions.
  • Balance of Interests: The amendments strike a balance between protecting offenders from unfair disadvantage and safeguarding the interests of employers and the public.

 

In light of the changes, employers are advised to review organisational policies in relation to employee disclosure requirements. This should typically include ensuring all documentation, systems and processes are amended in line with the new time periods.

 

Need assistance?

For advice on the implications of the new disclosure rules in relation to spent convictions on disclosure obligations and time periods, contact us.

 
Last updated: 2 November 2023

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

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