Rehabilitation of Offenders Act reform

13/02/14 - Legislation change

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 reforms will commence in March 2014

Reforms to help reduce reoffending come into force

Reforms which will cut the amount of time some offenders need to disclose details of any low level convictions will come into effect next month, Justice Minister Simon Hughes said today.

The move is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to tackling reoffending so that offenders can turn their back on a life of crime and can get back into honest work.

However, all offenders will still always have to declare previous convictions when applying for jobs in sensitive workplaces like schools and hospitals or working with people in vulnerable circumstances. The most serious offenders will continue to have to declare their convictions for the rest of their lives when applying for any job.

Ministry of Justice research shows that former offenders who gain employment are less likely to reoffend.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
“Today’s changes are long overdue. They will mean that people who have turned their backs on crime will be able to move on with their lives. Evidence shows that former offenders who are able to get back into the world of work and contribute to society are less likely to reoffend. Making a mistake and committing a minor crime when you are fifteen shouldn’t mean you are barred from employment for the rest of your life.”

Christopher Stacey, Director (Services) at Unlock, said “We are pleased that the Government has announced today that the long-overdue reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 will come into force on the 10th March 2014. For far too long, people who have served their sentence and changed their ways have been prevented from moving on in their lives. As a result of these changes, many people with convictions who have in the past have been languishing on benefits will now be able to go out and get work and contribute positively to society".

"Since the law was passed in 2012, our helpline has been receiving calls on a daily basis from people who have been putting their lives and careers on hold, waiting for the changes to come in. It's clear to us that these changes will make a huge difference to thousands of people whose convictions will now be spent under these changes, giving them a fresh start when applying for many jobs, education courses and insurance services."

"However, we must not forget that these changes are far from perfect. It will remain the case that anybody who receives a prison sentence of over 4 years will have to continue to disclose their convictions for the rest of their lives whenever they are asked, and this remains a huge stumbling block for many people who are trying to change their lives for the better. If the Government wants to truly transform our criminal justice system, it must recognise that access to stable employment is the most important factor in people desisting from crime, and having a criminal record disclosure system that continues to punish people for the rest of their lives is not in anybody's interest".

Find out more about the changes at hub.unlock.org.uk/changestotheroa/