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Under new proposals, the time it takes for certain convictions to become ‘spent’ will be reduced so that they are no longer automatically disclosed on employment checks.

Custodial sentences of up to a year will become spent after a further 12 months without reoffending, while convictions between one and four years will no longer be disclosed after four crime-free years.

Previously, such offences would continue to be shared with employers for up to four and seven years respectively. To ensure this does not result in an increased risk to the public, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has emphasised that these changes will not apply to anyone who has committed serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences nor to those working in sensitive roles such as teaching or nursing. Furthermore, any individual that reoffends during their rehabilitation period will have to disclose both their original and subsequent offences to employers for the duration of whichever rehabilitation period is longer.

These reforms are intended to remove a disproportionate barrier to employment which prevents ex-offenders from moving on with their lives. For example, someone handed a five-year sentence for theft 30 years ago that still has to disclose their crime despite never reoffending. Currently, details of such offences must be shared with employers for the remainder of an offender’s life – even if the crimes were committed decades earlier, or as a child.

These proposals follow secondary legislation laid by the Government earlier this year that will, in most cases, remove the requirement for automatic disclosure and self-disclosure of youth cautions, reprimands and warnings as well as removing the ‘multiple conviction’ rule, which requires the disclosure of all convictions where a person has more than one conviction, regardless of the nature of their offence or sentence.

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