Home News Criminal record reform to support ex-offenders into work

Criminal record reform to support ex-offenders into work

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New legislation will help ex-offenders to find a job – allowing them to turn their lives around and ending the cycle of crime.

  • reforms to remove barrier to employment and reduce reoffending
  • time it takes certain convictions to become ‘spent’ reduced
  • changes will not apply to sensitive roles or most serious offenders

Under new proposals announced today (16 September 2020), the time it takes for certain convictions to become ‘spent’ will be reduced so that they are no longer automatically disclosed on employment checks. This will only happen after a period of rehabilitation has been successfully completed, allowing offenders who have turned their backs on crime a fair chance of employment again.

Custodial sentences of up to a year will become spent after a further 12 months without reoffending, while convictions between 1 and 4 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, these changes will not apply to those that have committed serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences and those working in sensitive roles such as teaching or nursing.

Reoffending costs the taxpayer around £18 billion per year and there are few better ways of reducing it than the security of a regular income. However, many former offenders find it almost impossible to get a job with just 17% in P45 employment a year after release and more than half of employers saying they would not consider hiring someone with a criminal record.

These reforms will 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.

Once a 7 year period of rehabilitation has been served, sentences of more than 4 years will no longer be automatically disclosed to employers. 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.

Children’s rehabilitation periods will continue to be half that of adults, recognising that children who offend are often highly vulnerable and are still maturing.

However, 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.


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