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12 November 2018

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

2 mins

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (“the RoA”) was enacted to help people with few and/or minor criminal convictions overcome their past by allowing cautions and certain convictions to become “spent” after specific periods of time. 

Generally, if a conviction is “spent” you are considered a “rehabilitated person” under the RoA. This means, in general, you do not have to disclose the conviction even if you are directly asked about your criminal record and it cannot be lawfully taken into account in most circumstances, such as in relation to job applications. 

The RoA is disapplied for some job roles, professions and voluntary positions which are eligible for standard or enhanced criminal record certificates (also known as Disclosure and Barring Service certificates or DBS certificates). This means that you must declare all cautions and convictions, subject to the filtering rules (see our separate blog on the filtering rules).

The RoA was updated in 2014 and new “rehabilitation periods” were inserted. These are helpfully summarised in a poster (“Is it spent?”) produced by Unlock, the national charity for people with convictions. Unlock also has helpful advice on disclosing criminal records to employers.

If you have an old reprimand or caution on your standard or enhanced criminal record certificate which cannot be filtered it is open to you to make representations to the police force that issued the reprimand or caution setting out why the continued retention and disclosure is not proportionate, using human rights arguments. For further information, see our blog on cautions. We have a proven track record in persuading the police to delete cautions using the representations procedure. 

Please get in touch if you would like further information.

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