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Reforms to offender rehabilitation

These changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 will come into effect on 10 March 2014.
The reforms are part of a government plan to reduce re-offending by helping offenders get back into work. The move comes on the back of research carried out by the Ministry of Justice which found that former offenders who gained employment were less likely to go on to reoffend.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, most convictions become ‘spent’ after a specific period of time which means that the offender no longer has to reveal them to a potential employer.
There are exceptions though, for example where the job involved working with children. For these types of occupations the offender must disclose all cautions and convictions, regardless of whether or not they are ‘spent’.
Under the new rules being introduced the rehabilitation period applicable for disclosing convictions will be as follows:-
For custodial sentences:

Sentence length

Current rehabilitation period -applies from date of conviction

New rehabilitation period is period of sentence plus the period below – which applies from end of sentence

0–6 months

7 years

2 years

6– 30 months

10 years

4 years

30 months– 4 years

Never spent

7 years

Over 4 years

Never spent

Never spent


For non-custodial sentences:


Current rehabilitation period (applies from date of conviction)

Buffer period (will apply from end of sentence)

Community order (and youth rehabilitation order)

5 years

1 year


Current period

New period


5 years

1 year (from date of conviction)

Absolute discharge

6 months


Conditional discharge, referral order, reparation order, action plan order, supervision order, bind-over order, hospital order

Various – mostly between one year and length of the Order

Period of order


The new rules introduce significantly shorter periods of time where convictions have to be disclosed to a potential employer.

If you would like to speak to a specialist in Employment Law, please call 01302 320621


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