Written by Emma Lineton, Solicitor Advocate in our Criminal Law department.
Earlier this year major changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 came into effect.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 aims to give those with convictions or cautions the chance – in certain circumstances – to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. Under the Act, eligible convictions or cautions become “spent” after a specified period of time known as the “rehabilitation period”, the length of which varies depending on how the individual concerned was dealt with.
Once the conviction or caution becomes spent, the offender is regarded as rehabilitated and (for most purposes) is treated as if he had never committed the offence.
These reforms reduce the period during which certain convictions need to be disclosed to potential employers. However, those applying for work in sensitive workplaces such as schools and hospitals or where the job will involve working with people in vulnerable circumstances or concern matters of national security, will continue having to disclose previous convictions.
Previously, a conviction of two and a half years or more would never become spent. However, under the new provisions, a conviction will only never become spent where a period of imprisonment is imposed of more than four years.
If you are in doubt as to whether or not you are required by law to disclose a previous conviction or caution, please do not hesitate to contact our Criminal Department.