What are spent and unspent convictions?

February 13th, 2013 by Matt Tuckey

Spent convictions are those that have reached their rehabilitation period following a criminal conviction and are removed from an individual’s criminal record. Unspent convictions are those records that have not yet reached this defined time and will appear on a Basic Criminal Record Check.

The rehabilitation period is a set period of time defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Any conviction, caution, reprimand or warning that an individual may receive is held on their Criminal Record, on the Police National Computer. Some offences are classified as ‘non-recordable,’ meaning they are not stored on the PNC (Police National Computer) and become instantly ‘spent.’ This is is most commonly ‘on the spot’ fines but for more information contact the DBS directly. For exact time periods relating to types of offence please contact Disclosure Scotland or the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) directly.

Professions or job roles where employers can access both spent and unspent criminal convictions due to the nature of work being undertaken are detailed in The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, Exceptions Order 1975. Under pre-May 2013 Legislation an Enhanced and Standard Disclosure would show information on all previous spent and unspent convictions. Since 29th May 2013 there are certain conditions whereby conviction information is ‘filtered’ and some will not be displayed on the Certificate. Please view our webpage for more information about the Filtering of Conviction Information.

Within this new legislation there is a large list of conviction types and offences that will never be filtered from a Certificate. For more information go to www.gov.uk/dbs

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