The easiest periods to deal with relate to simple cautions, reprimands and warnings which become spent immediately they are given.

What constitutes a “criminal record” and how does it relate to rehabilitation periods?

A “criminal record” is created on the Police National Computer (PNC) and can include a person’s criminal convictions, cautions and other relevant information. Details of all recordable offences are kept on the PNC until the individual is 100 years old and can be accessed by the police. This does not mean that they will be disclosed as part of a criminal record check or require an individual to disclose if the conviction is regarded as spent.

In general terms a person under 18 at the time of the conviction/disposal would expect their rehabilitation period to be half the period for an adult. For example, an adult would have to wait 1 year for rehabilitation if they had been fined for an offence, but the young person would only need to wait 6 months. The period is increased to 2 years for an adult if imprisonment was imposed up to 6 months. This is increased to 4 years for a period of imprisonment over 6 months but not exceeding 2½ years. Above that the conviction becomes spent after 7 years from the end of the sentence.

For some disposals the rehabilitation period is the same for adults and young people. For example, a conditional discharge will become spent after the period of the Order or 12 months, depending which is longer. An absolute discharge is spent after 6 months.

There is one example where the rehabilitation period may be particularly problematic. If a Compensation Order was made against an offender then the rehabilitation period lasts until the Order is paid in full. This could mean that, theoretically, a Compensation Order is never spent if a person has unwittingly left a very small sum unpaid. On the basis that a court would not make a Compensation Order that they felt an offender could not pay off within a reasonable period it is hoped that this provision would not cause anybody a problem. It is easy to see how the provision could result in somebody making a false declaration on an application form.

Rehabilitation periods can be subject to the whim of Government. If you have a problem with rehabilitation periods then you should not rely upon this information but rather check the information maintained on the Justice site.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (“1974 Act”) primarily exists to support the rehabilitation into employment of those with convictions who have ceased offending and wish to turn their lives around.
Under the 1974 Act, following a specified period of time which varies according to the judgment of the court or sentence passed, all cautions and most convictions may become ‘spent’.

Where a conviction has become spent, the individual is treated as rehabilitated in respect of that offence and is not obliged to declare it for most purposes, for example, when applying for most jobs or insurance, some educational courses and housing applications. Someone with a spent conviction shall be treated for all purposes in law as a person who has not been convicted of the offence which was the subject of that conviction.

Amendments were made to the 1974 Act via the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. The changes significantly reduce the length of time that someone needs to disclose their criminal record for custodial sentences of under 4 years and community sentences. Under the changes, custodial sentences of over 4 years of a type which are not already excluded (such as life sentences or sentences of imprisonment for public protection), will be able to become spent for the first time. However, to ensure the protection of the public, the changes do not apply to persons sentenced to more than 4 years imprisonment following a conviction for any serious violent, sexual or terrorist offences listed in Schedule
18 of the Sentencing Code. This means that such convictions will continue to never become spent.

As previously mentioned, once a caution or conviction has become spent under the 1974 Act, a person does not have to reveal it or admit its existence in most circumstances. Unless an exception applies spent cautions and convictions need not be disclosed when filling in an application form, or at a job interview. Where an exception does not apply, an employer cannot refuse to employ someone (or dismiss someone) because they have a spent caution or conviction.

While we are about it, bear in mind that almost any involvement with the police is likely to result in a record being kept on the Police National Computer and be disclosable by the police, at least on an Enhanced check.

Contact Daniel Bonich to discuss your problem and satisfy yourself that we can offer the skill and service that you need

Clarke Kiernan, Rehabilitation Issues solicitors,

1 Lamberts Yard, Tonbridge, TN9 1ER

Phone: 01732360999, Fax : 01732353835, fraud@clarkekiernan.comMap