On 28 October 2023 reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 came into force. The reforms reduce the period of time that those with criminal convictions are legally required to declare them to employers.
Previous rehabilitation periods v current rehabilitation periods
The previous rehabilitation periods were:
- community order – one year beginning with the last day on which the order had effect
- custody of six months or less – two years
- custody of more than six months and up to 30 months – four years
- custody of more than 30 months and up to four years – seven years
- for offences with custodial sentences of more than four years, the conviction was never spent
The new rehabilitation periods are as follows:
- community order – the last day on which the order had effect
- custody of one year or less – one year
- custody of more than one year and up to four years – four years
- custody of more than four years – seven years
However, it is important to note that convictions for serious sexual, violence or terrorist offences continue to never be spent. Furthermore, stricter disclosure rules continue to apply to jobs that involve working with vulnerable people.
The time periods detailed above relate only to offenders who are over 18 at the time of conviction. Children’s rehabilitation periods will continue to be half that of adults.
What was the aim behind the amendments?
Some offenders, prior to the reform were required to disclose their sentences for the rest of their lives, even if the crime had been committed decades earlier. By shortening the time period that offenders have to disclose their sentences, the reforms aim to remove the current significant barrier to seeking employment and assist offenders with finding a job and rebuilding their lives.
As stated by Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk KC the hope is that the reforms will help ex-offenders to get the “steady income, routine and purpose they need which cuts reoffending and ensures fewer members of the public become victims of crime.”
What happens if an individual reoffends during their probationary period?
If an individual reoffends during their probationary period then the duration they have to disclose their previous conviction and their new conviction will be whichever rehabilitation period is longer.