Understanding Rehabilitation Periods

The rehabilitation period (the length of time before a caution or conviction becomes spent) is determined by the type of disposal administered or the length of the sentence imposed. It is calculated from the date of conviction or the date the caution is administered.

Please note that the rehabilitation periods should be determined with reference to the law of the jurisdiction to which the application relates.

This means that the contents of a Basic Disclosure certificate issued by the Disclosure Scotland may differ depending on whether the application for the certificate is processed under the legislation that applies in England and Wales or under the legislation that applies in Scotland/Northern Ireland.

For an application where the home address of the candidate is in England or Wales, the application will be processed by Disclosure Scotland under the new periods implemented as of 10th March 2014. For an application where the home address of the candidate is in Scotland, Northern Ireland or outside of the United Kingdom, the application will be processed by Disclosure Scotland under the current rehabilitation periods.

Please find below the rehabilitation period specific to the candidate’s residence.

ENGLAND & WALES

For all applications where the candidate currently resides in England and Wales the rehabilitation periods are as follows:

ADULTS – If you were 18 or over on the date of conviction
Sentence length Rehabilitation period
Prison sentence > 48 months Never spent
Prison sentence > 30-48 months 7 years from end of sentence
Prison > 6-30 months 4 years from end of sentence
Prison 6 months or less 2 years from end of sentence
Probation Order 12 months from end of order
Community Order 12 months from end of order*
Fine 1 year from date of conviction
Conditional Discharge Order The last day on which the order has effect
Compensation Once compensation paid in full
Absolute Discharge No rehabilitation period

* Where the order does not specify the last day on which the order is to take effect, the rehabilitation period is 2 years from the date of conviction.

JUVENILES – If you were 17 or under on the date of conviction
Sentence length Rehabilitation period
Custodial sentence >48 months Never spent
Custodial sentence > 30-48 months 3 ½ years from end of complete sentence (inc. time on licence)
Custodial sentence > 6-30 months 2 years from end of complete sentence (inc. time on licence)
Custodial sentence 6 months or less 1 ½ years from end of complete sentence (inc. time on licence)
Community Order/Youth Rehabilitation Order 6 months from end of order*
Referral Order The last day on which the order has effect
Fine 6 months from date of conviction
Conditional Discharge Order The last day on which the order has effect
Compensation Once compensation paid in full
Absolute Discharge No rehabilitation period
* Where the order does not specify the last day on which the order is to take effect, the rehabilitation period is 2 years from the date of conviction.


Standard and Enhanced Criminal Disclosure in England and Wales

What does it mean that DBS will be filtering offences?

Since May 29th 2013, DBS has no longer included certain specified old and minor cautions, convictions, reprimands and warnings on Standard and Enhanced Disclosure certificates. DBS refers to this process as “filtering” but in reality what has happened is that there has been a change in the legislation altering the rehabilitation periods of certain offences.

There are a small number of defined positions where details of all convictions and cautions may be taken into account. These positions do not come through the DBS process. Examples are national security and police vetting.

The rules now state that a certificate must include the following:

  • Cautions relating to an offence from a list agreed by Parliament *
  • Cautions given less than 6 years ago (where the individual was over 18 at the time of caution)
  • Cautions given less than 2 years ago (where the individual was under 18 at the time of caution)
  • Convictions relating to an offence from a prescribed list *
  • Where the individual has more than one conviction, all convictions will be included on the certificate (no conviction will be filtered)
  • Convictions that resulted in a custodial sentence (regardless of whether served)
  • Convictions given less than 11 years ago (where the individual was over 18 at the time of conviction)
  • Convictions given less than 5.5 years ago (where the individual was under 18 at the time of conviction)
* The list includes a range of offences which are serious and which relate to sexual offending, violent offending and/or safeguarding. It would never be appropriate to filter offences on this list. A list of offences which will never be filtered has been derived from the legislation and is available here.
 

This is not the complete list as the legislation also extends to cover similar offences committed under the law of Scotland and Northern Ireland or under laws relevant to the armed services.

Do I need to provide details of all convictions, spent and unspent?

When completing the DBS application form, a question will be asked whether you have ever been convicted of a criminal offence. The response to this question should only be in relation to convictions which would not be subject to filtering.

Where a Standard or Enhanced certificate can legally be requested (this is where the position is one that is listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1975 (Exceptions) Order 1975) an employer can only ask an individual about convictions and cautions that would be disclosed on a DBS certificate.

Please note that the following cautions and convictions would not be listed on the DBS certificate:

 

Filtering rules for adults
(18 or over)

Filtering rules for young people (under 18)

Cautions

Given 6 years ago or more

Given 2 years ago or more

Conviction

Given 11 years ago or more

Given 5 years and 6 months ago or more

Click here for a list of offences which will never be filtered.

If an employer asks for or takes into account a conviction or caution that would not be disclosed on a certificate then they are acting unlawfully under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

If you complete the DBS paper application form the Question e55 on the paper DBS Application form asks you: ‘Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence or received a caution, reprimand or warning?’

You should now ignore this question and instead treat this question as if you were being asked:
‘Do you have any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings, which would not be filtered in line with current guidance?’

Candidates should also apply this to the question asked on the BackCheck consent form, although BackCheck has issued updated consent forms with the new question.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and outside of the UK – Disclosure Scotland applications

For all applications where the candidate currently resides in Scotland, Northern Ireland or outside of the United Kingdom the rehabilitation periods are shown in the table below.

Sentence/disposal Rehabilitation period for adults
(18 or over)
Rehabilitation period for young people (under 18)

Imprisonment or detention in a young offender institution for over 30 months (2 ½ years)

Never spent Never spent
Imprisonment or detention in a young offender institution over 6 months but not exceeding 30 months (2 ½ years) 10 years 5 years
Imprisonment up to 6 months 7 years 3 years 6months
Fine 5 years 2 years 6 months
Community Sentence 5 years 2 years 6 months
Conditional discharge The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer) The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer)
Absolute Discharge 6 months 6 months
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution, Reprimand, Final Warning Spent immediately Spent immediately

 

Some sentences carry variable rehabilitation periods. The main ones are as follows:

Compensation Order

5 Years 2 years 6 months
Supervision Order The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer) The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer)
Bind Over The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer) The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer)
Attendance Centre Order A period ending one year after the order expires A period ending one year after
the order expires
Hospital Order Five years, or a period ending two years after the order expires (whichever is longer) Five years, or a period ending two years after the order expires (whichever is longer)

Important Note: This is intended as general guidance only. It must not be regarded as a definitive interpretation of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Anyone in doubt should seek legal advice.

Northern Ireland – AccessNI applications

Please note that for all applications submitted via AccessNI the rehabilitation periods are shown in the table below.

Type of Sentence

Under 18 years at conviction

Aged 18 or over at conviction

Absolute discharge

6 months

6 months

Probation Order, Bind over, Conditional Discharge, Care/ Supervision Order

Date Order ceases or 1 year – whichever is longer

Date Order ceases or 1 year – whichever is longer

Attendance Centre Orders, Juvenile Justice Centre Order, Youth Conference Order, Reparation Order, Community Responsibility Order

1 Year after the Order expires

1 year after the Order expires

Hospital Order

5 years or 2 years after Order expires – whichever is longer

5 years or 2 years after Order expires – whichever is longer

Fine or Community Service Order, Combination Order

2.5 years

5 years

Prison (immediate or suspended) or Young Offenders Centre – sentence of 6 months or less

3.5 years

7 years

Prison (immediate or suspended) or Young Offenders Centre over 6 months up to and including 2.5 years

5 years

10 years

A period of detention of less than 6 months under Article 45 of the CJ (Children) (NI) Order 1998

3 Years

N/A

A period of detention of over 6 months but less than 30 months under Article 45 of the CJ (Children) (NI) Order 1998

5 years

N/A