• Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 criminal convictions can become spent or ignored after a rehabilitation period, although they remain on the Police National Computer. The rehabilitation period varies depending on the sentence or order imposed by the court – not the offence.

    The following sentences become spent after fixed periods from the date of conviction. Under the reforms the rehabilitation periods will change to:

    Sentence or disposal Rehabilitation period if aged 18 or over when convicted or disposal administered Rehabilitation period if aged under 18 when convicted or disposal administered
    • Sentence of imprisonment for life
    • Sentence of imprisonment, youth custody, detention in a young offender institution or corrective training of over four years
    • Sentence of preventive detention
    • Sentence of detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure
    • Sentence of custody for life
    • Public protection sentences* (imprisonment for public protection, detention for public protection, extended sentences of imprisonment or detention for public protection and extended determinate sentences for dangerous offenders)
    *A public protection sentence (the provisions for which are set out in Part 12 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and Part 8 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 means a sentence of imprisonment or detention, as detailed above, imposed for specified sexual and violent offences.
    These sentences are excluded from rehabilitation and so will always be disclosed These sentences are excluded from rehabilitation and so will always be disclosed
    A custodial sentence of over 2 years 6 months but not exceeding 4 years 7 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed 3 years 6 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
    A custodial sentence of over 6 months but not exceeding 2 years 6 months* 4 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed 2 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
    A custodial sentence of up to 6 months* 2 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed 1 year 6 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
    A sentence of service detention 1 year from the date on which the sentence was completed 6 months from the date on which the sentence was completed
    Dismissal from Her Majesty’s Service 1 year from the date of conviction 6 months from the date of conviction
    Fine 1 year from the date of the conviction in respect of which the fine was imposed 6 months from the date of the conviction in respect of which the fine was imposed
    Community order or youth rehabilitation order 1 year from the last day on which the order has effect 6 months from the last day on which the order has effect
    Driving endorsements 5 years from the date of conviction 2 years 6 months from the date of conviction
    Driving disqualification When the period of the disqualification has passed When the period of the disqualification has passed
    Simple caution, youth caution Spent immediately Spent immediately
    Conditional caution, youth conditional caution 3 months or when caution ceases to have effect if earlier 3 months or when caution ceases to have effect if earlier
    Compensation order On discharge of the order (i.e. when it is paid in full). Proof of payment will be required On discharge of the order (i.e. when it is paid in full). Proof of payment will be required
    Absolute discharge Spent immediately Spent immediately
    Relevant orders** (orders that impose a disqualification, disability, prohibition or other penalty) The end date given by the order or, if no date given, 2 years from the date of conviction - unless the order states ’unlimited’, ’indefinitely’ or ’until further order’ as in these cases it will remain unspent The end date given by the order or, if no date given, 2 years from the date of conviction - unless the order states ’unlimited’, ’indefinitely’ or ’until further order’ as in these cases it will remain unspent

    * Suspended custodial sentences are treated the same as custodial sentences for this purpose. It will be the length of the sentence imposed by the court, not the period it is suspended for that dictates when it will become spent.

    ** Relevant orders include conditional discharge orders, restraining orders, hospital orders, bind overs, referral orders, care orders and any order imposing a disqualification, disability, prohibition or other penalty not mentioned in the table.