Law change: could your conviction be spent?

Criminal record spending periods have changed under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act


Big news! The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act has changed the length of time that many convictions show on basic criminal record checks. This means that your conviction may be spent sooner than you thought, even if you received a prison sentence of over four years.

Parliament passed the Act in April 2022. The criminal record changes came into effect at the end of October 2023. So they are already in effect!

Shorter spending periods for most convictions

The new legislation reduces the spending periods for a large number of convictions. This means that people will be able to move on with their lives more quickly after completing their sentence.
Let’s look at an example. In the past, an adult who received a 6 month prison sentence had to reveal the offence on basic checks for the full length of the sentence plus two years. However, now that the new legislation is in effect, the same person only needs to reveal the offence for the length of the sentence plus one extra year.

Spent convictions for prison sentences over four years


For the first time ever, many prison sentences of over four years can also eventually become spent. However, the new legislation considers the nature of the offence when determining whether it can become spent. Disclosure for serious violent, sexual and terrorist offences will not change. A list of these offences can be found here.

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