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Changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 - FOR INFORMATION ONLY, NO IMPACT FOR SCHOOLS - 06/11/2023

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was amended on 28th October 2023 to reduce the periods of time after which certain offences become "spent" and no longer need to be legally disclosed to an employer.  

The changes follow the Ministry of Justice White Paper in September 2020, and the government estimates that the reforms will affect a large number of offenders, including nearly 125,000 people sentenced in 2022 alone.

The new rehabilitation periods are as follows:

  • Community order – the last day on which the order had effect (previously it was one year beginning with the last day on which the order had effect).
  • Custody of six months or less – one year (previously two years).
  • Custody of more than six months and up to four years – four years (previously seven years).
  • Custody of more than four years – seven years (previously never spent).

The offences will become “spent” after the appropriate rehabilitation period. This is subject to the proviso that no further offence is committed in that period. If someone reoffends during the rehabilitation period, they will have to disclose both their original and subsequent offences to employers for the duration of whichever rehabilitation period is longer.

Convictions for serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences will continue to never be spent.

What does this mean for education?

There is no change for schools.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 sets out the exceptions where an individual is required to disclose their caution or conviction, even if it is considered “spent”.

Jobs in schools are exempt. In these circumstances, an applicant will be required to list all cautions and convictions that are not protected (i.e. that are not filtered out).


Guidance-Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act | Criminal record advice | Nacro