Proposed Changes to Criminal Record Checks

In the UK, some previous criminal convictions are “spent” after a period of time, meaning that they do not have to be revealed to prospective employers. More serious crimes are never spent reflecting their gravity. Those looking to work with vulnerable adults and young people must undertake an enhanced criminal records check, which is now provided by the newly formed Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Such a check currently discloses all convictions and cautions which are then revealed to prospective employers, even those that are “spent”. However, proposals announced by the Government will permit some old and minor offences to be filtered out from checks by the DBS. This new checking system is due to be implemented within weeks, subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

It is proposed that old and minor cautions and convictions will no longer appear on criminal records checks undertaken by employers in relation to positions where the potential recruit will be working unsupervised with children and vulnerable adults. Adult cautions will be filtered from records after a period of six years, whilst those received by a young offender will be filtered after two years. Adult convictions resulting in a non-custodial sentence will be filtered after a period of 11 years, whilst such a conviction received as a young offender will be filtered after five and a half years. Some cautions and convictions will never be eligible to be filtered from criminal records checks, including serious violent and sexual offences, offences with a custodial sentence and multiple offences.