The difference between spent and unspent convictions in the UK

The difference between spent and unspent convictions in the UK

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DBS checks can be stressful for anyone who has committed a crime, no matter how many years ago. It’s important to understand the difference between spent and unspent convictions, and how they can affect the results of your DBS check.

 

What are spent and unspent convictions?

 

Spent convictions are crimes that have been removed from your record, while unspent convictions have not. Many convictions will become spent over time, depending on the nature of the crime and how long ago it was committed. However, some crimes will never be removed from your record. These include violent or serious sexual crimes, crimes that led to a prison sentence of 30 months or more, and crimes that have an impact on safeguarding.

 

The police will continue to keep information about spent convictions, but this is considered confidential and will only be disclosed in certain circumstances.

 

Do spent and unspent convictions appear on DBS checks?

 

There are three levels of DBS check: basic, standard, and enhanced. Basic DBS checks can be requested by anyone. Standard and enhanced DBS checks are subject to additional protections, and can only be requested by employers in particular fields. A standard DBS check is often used in financial services, while an enhanced DBS check is only used for certain positions of employment, such as jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. All three types of DBS checks can be ordered through DBS Checks Online.

 

Unspent convictions will always appear on DBS checks of every level.

 

Spent convictions will not appear on a basic level DBS check. However, they may appear on a standard or enhanced check. This depends on the nature of the crime, and how long ago it was committed. Some minor convictions and cautions are filtered out, and will not appear on DBS checks. An enhanced check will also contain any police intelligence, if relevant, even if a conviction has not taken place.

 

How long does it take for a conviction to be spent?



The length of time before a conviction becomes spent is called a rehabilitation period, and its duration depends on a few factors. First, there is a difference between caution and conviction. Cautions become spent immediately, while conditional cautions become spent after three months.

 

Convictions are more complicated. Firstly, if you were under 18 at the time of the conviction, it will become spent faster. Secondly, the time frame depends on the sentence or punishment received for the conviction. This can vary from months to years. For example, a conviction given to an adult that resulted in a fine will usually be spent after five years. The same conviction given to a minor will be spent after two and a half years.

 

Additional factors can affect the length of time it takes for a conviction to become spent, most notably if another conviction takes place before the rehabilitation period is finished.

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