The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables the rehabilitation into employment of offenders who have not broken the law again. The Act enables some convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings in respect of a particular offence to be considered ‘spent’ after a specified period of time (known as the ‘rehabilitation period’), which varies according to the nature of the conviction. As such, a rehabilitated person can then be treated as if they had never been convicted of the offence and, therefore, are not required to declare any spent caution(s) or conviction(s), when applying for most jobs.
However, some exceptions may apply, for example, clinical work or particular types of work with children or other vulnerable groups would necessitate the disclosure of ‘spent’ convictions. When a conviction becomes ‘spent’, the individual is considered rehabilitated and may be treated as if they had never committed an offence. As such, the specified conviction or caution does not need to be disclosed by the individual when applying for most jobs, unless the post is subject to the exceptions of the Act.
A conviction cannot be spent if it carried a custodial sentence of 4 years or more. Lesser sentences have rehabilitation periods attached to them, and once this period has expired the conviction is regarded as spent (provided no further convictions occur within the rehabilitation period).
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