Disclosure of your criminal record
The government has recently approved a proposal to reform the rules surrounding disclosing an individual’s criminal record.
A review of the sentencing system found that access to employment was a critical element in reducing offending. Having unspent convictions can be a barrier to gaining employment, so the proposal is to change the law to reduce the number of people required to disclose convictions.
Once an individual’s conviction is spent, they are considered, save for the exceptions below, as fully rehabilitated and treated as if they never had the conviction.
The current system
All cautions and convictions eventually become spent, except for prison sentences over 4 years:
- A simple caution is spent immediately.
- Community sentences are spent one year after the order has finished.
- Imprisonment of less than 6 months is spent after 2 years.
- Imprisonment between 6 months and 30 months is spent after 4 years.
- Imprisonment between 30 months and 4 years is spent after 7 years.
- In cases of imprisonment over 4 years, the conviction is never spent.
In general terms, all the rehabilitation periods are halved for those aged under 18 at the time of conviction. This recognises that children who offend are often vulnerable and still maturing.
There are still occasions when spent convictions must be declared. These primarily relate to sensitive areas such as work with children or vulnerable adults, the law and high-level financial positions.
The most significant proposal is to remove the rule that convictions involving a sentence over 4 years can never become spent. This will not apply, however, to convictions for serious sexual, violent and terrorist offences. The new rehabilitation periods are;
- A community order will be spent on the last day of the order.
- Imprisonment of 1 year or less will be spent after 1 year.
- Imprisonment between 1 year and 4 years will be spent after 4 years.
- Imprisonment of more than 4 years will be spent after 7 years.
The rehabilitation period in respect of those convicted under the age of 18 who receive a custodial sentence will be half of those for adults, and the same principles will apply that even spent convictions will need to be declared in certain situations.
What difference will this make?
30% of employers have stated that they would automatically exclude a candidate who declared an unspent criminal conviction. Currently, someone who committed a serious offence of theft 20 years ago and who has not re-offended since would have to declare that conviction. Under the new proposals, they may not have to, which could improve offenders’ chances of securing employment.
Is any other action being taken?
A Prison Leaver Project was announced last year, which aims to assist those leaving prison. The government says this will provide £20m of funding to support local leadership and identify new ways of tackling re-offending.
How can we help?
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, get in touch with our team of expert criminal defence lawyers today.
We take the time to get to know each person involved in a case and provide tailored support for every individual to achieve the best possible outcomes for your case. Contact us today to book a meeting and get help for your case today.
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.