Important changes to UK criminal record checking – reduction in rehabilitation period

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Significant changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the piece of legislation which controls UK Criminal Record Checking, come into effect on Monday 10th March 2014.

Rehabilitation periods will be substantially reduced, meaning convictions will become spent far more quickly and no longer appear on a basic disclosure certificate.

The legislative change is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to tackling reoffending so that offenders can turn their back on a life of crime and can get back into honest work.

It is important to note that the law changes will only apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Individuals who live in Scotland will not be affected by the changes. Disclosure Scotland (responsible for issuing basic disclosure certificates for the whole of the UK) has stated it will apply different legislation rules based on the applicant’s current address. Therefore, from 10th March, an individual living in Scotland will be subject to the current legislation on rehabilitation periods where as a candidate living in England, Wales or Northern Ireland will be subject to the legislation changes.

Under the reforms the rehabilitation periods will change to:As with the current scheme, the above periods are halved for persons under 18 at date of conviction (except for custodial sentences of up to 6 months where the buffer period will be 18 months for persons under 18 at the date of conviction). 

Further details can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service website 

Whilst sentences will now appear on basic disclosures for a shorter period of time (until they are spent), spent convictions will continue to appear on standard and enhanced disclosure checks for individuals applying for jobs in regulated roles, sensitive workplaces or working with vulnerable people. Please note; employers must not apply for a standard or enhanced check unless the job role is eligible for one. A list of eligible positions can be found at

Best practice recommendation for using criminal record checks in your recruitment is to combine it with a wider background screen to give a full picture of an individual’s background.


The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any statutes or laws cited in this article should be read in their entirety. If you or your customers have questions concerning compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations, we suggest that you address these directly with your legal department or outside counsel.

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