Update: criminal record checks — new filtering rules

On 29 May 2013, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013 came into force. The main impact of this order is that it will relax the rules on disclosure of cautions and convictions. From 29 May 2013, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will be removing certain specified old and minor offences from criminal record certificates issued from this date.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 provides that criminal convictions, cautions, warnings and reprimands in respect of certain offences are deemed to be ‘spent’ after specified periods of time. Prison sentences of 30 months or more are excluded from this and are never spent.

Broadly speaking, spent cautions and spent convictions don’t need to be disclosed. However, a person applying for an ‘excepted’ post (including work with children or vulnerable adults) may be asked whether they have any unspent convictions and cautions provided the questions are asked for the purpose of assessing the applicant’s suitability for the role. At the time the questions are asked, the person must be informed that they are obliged to disclose spent convictions. A failure to answer is a valid reason to withhold employment or to dismiss, as is a failure to give truthful information…

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