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FAQ’s on ROA and Basic DBS disclosures

This page sits within our information section on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This is a specific page with FAQ’s covering specific situations and when convictions become spent and/or disclosed on basic DBS disclosures.

It depends on the disposal/sentence.

Sentences with a buffer period (i.e. prison sentences, suspended sentences and community orders) are made up of the original sentence, plus an additional fixed period. For these, you normally start from the date the sentence started.

For sentences with no buffer period (i.e. a fine) the rehabilitation period is either the length of the order, or a fixed period starting from the date of conviction.

No. The buffer period starts from the end of the full sentence. This includes time spent on licence. For example, if you were sentenced to 12 months in June 2013, and we’re released in December 2013, the buffer period wouldn’t start until June 2014, which is the end of the full 12 month sentence.

The buffer period starts on the sentence end date of the custodial sentence, which takes into account any time spent on remand. For example, if you were held on remand in May 2013 for one month, and then sentenced in June 2013 and given a 6 month sentence with remand having been taken into account, the end of the full sentence would be November 2013, which is when the buffer period would apply from.

Extended sentences for public protection are not covered by the Act, and so they cannot become spent.

If you get a further conviction while an earlier one is unspent, neither of them will become spent until the longest of them does. This is covered in more detail in our detailed guide.

No. The earlier sentence of more than 4 years would drag through any previously unspent convictions, and these would never become spent as a result. However, any further convictions after the one of more than 4 years can become spent on their own. For example, if you were sentenced to 5 years in prison in June 1995, this would never become spent. If you were later given a community order in June 2004, this could become spent on its own.

Suspended prison sentences are treated as prison sentences under the Act. It is the length of sentence that is used, not how long it was suspended for.

The rehabilitation period is governed by the custodial sentence, not the period of suspension or supervision. So, a six month custodial sentence suspended for two years has the same rehabilitation period as that for an immediate custodial sentence of six months. The length of the supervision order, or how long it was suspended was, is irrelevant

The provisions in the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2013 provide for a period of supervision post-sentence. This is to make sure that all individuals sentenced to imprisonment have at least 12 months on supervision on release. Individuals receiving sentences of two years or more will not be subject to post-sentence supervision because they will spend 12 months on licence subject to conditions following automatic release at the half-way point of the sentence.

Under the 2013 Act, where an individual receives a custodial sentence of less than two years, they will serve the second half of the sentence on licence and then there will be a period of post-sentence supervision to make sure that the overall period of supervision in the community is 12 months. For example, under these provisions an individual given a six month sentence may serve three months in prison and three months on licence with a further period of nine months on post-sentence supervision – the period of licence and post-sentence supervision will be 12 months.

However, the extra supervision period is post-sentence and does not affect the rehabilitation period for the conviction. In the example given, the sentence imposed is six months and the rehabilitation period would apply accordingly – the period of the sentence plus two years beyond the end date of the sentence – and the additional nine months of supervision will not be counted.

For example, if somebody was convicted as an adult in June 2014 and given 5 months in prison, the end of their sentence would be November 2014, so the conviction would become spent 2 years later (i.e. November 2016). The fact that the individual might be subject to ‘extended supervision’ into 2015 does not effect the ‘end of the sentence’ under the ROA.

A Community Order should have an end date, i.e. you might be given 180 hours, as part of a 12 month order. It doesn’t become spent quicker if you finish the hours quicker – the fixed period starts from the end of the court order.

Yes. However, non-payment of a fine may result in a further conviction, which will have its own rehabilitation period, and may drag the earlier conviction with it.

When you are applying for your basic DBS disclosure, you need to provide evidence to the Disclosure and Barring Service that the Compensation Order has been paid. You can obtain a letter of confirmation (or a receipt) from the Court when it is paid. If you don’t have this, you should be able to contact the court and ask them to confirm this in writing (and there shouldn’t be a charge for this). You can find further information on this advice post.

No, you only need to provide the evidence once. The Disclosure and Barring Service will keep this on file for all future basic disclosures.

It is unlikely that after 6 years a compensation order would be disclosed on a basic DBS certificate. However, this does not mean that you do not have to repay the compensation order. You are still legally required to repay the order and could be open to further legal action if you failed to do so.

A SOPO falls within the definition in the ROA of an Order that imposes a prohibition. The rehabilitation period for this type of Order ends on the date when the prohibition ceases to have effect. In your case, in five years time.

The conviction will become spent after a year (as an adult) or when the SOPO ends, whichever is longer. This will usually mean that the conviction won’t become spent until the SOPO ends. If you have a SOPO that doesn’t have an end date, you should consider getting legal advice and get it amended – find out more information here.

No. A sexual offender notification requirement is not regarded as a “disqualification, disability, prohibition or other penalty”. This means that the length of time you’re on the Sex Offenders Register is separate to how long it takes for a conviction to become spent. As a result of the reduced rehabilitation periods that came into force in 2014, it is now common for a conviction to become spent, but an individual still be subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

The order itself isn’t deemed to be a criminal conviction it would only become one if you breached the order. The time it would take to become spent would depend on the sentence/disposal you received.

Technically, the conviction cannot become spent until the order ends. If you have an order that doesn’t have an end date, you should consider getting legal advice and get it amended.

The Act applies where an order is made on conviction, and the order imposes any disqualification, disability, prohibition or other penalty. Only if both of these circumstances are met will the order be subject to the rehabilitation provisions and may appear on a basic DBS disclosure certificate, if it has not yet ended. The Ministry of Justice hasn’t published a list of orders that this applies to, but the ones we have seen it apply to are covered in our detailed guide.

Fixed penalty notices (FPN) and penalty notices for disorder (PND) are on-the-spot fines issued by the police for minor offences. If you receive a FPN or PND and pay this within the specified time limit, all liability for the offence is discharged and the offence does not form part of your criminal record. However, if you fail to pay a FPN or PND on time, you are likely to receive a court summons. If you accept responsibility for the offence, whether in person at court or by post, or are found guilty, you will have a conviction which will (in most cases) form part of a criminal record.

In some cases where a FPN or PND has not been paid on time and has defaulted to court, the offence is not recorded as a conviction on the Police National Computer and remains a locally held record. If you have failed to pay a FPN or PND on time and the matter has defaulted to court, you may wish to access a copy of your criminal record after the court hearing to see how your information has been recorded.

Neither of these are technically classed as convictions, and are not technically covered by the Act, so they don’t become spent as such. Although this means that, if asked, you are not entitled to withhold the details of them, in practice you won’t normally get asked about them. Also, they don’t come back on basic, standard or enhanced DBS criminal record checks. This means that employers don’t have access to them through ordinary employment vetting processes.

However, a Fixed Penalty Notice for an endorseable motoring offence will result in an endorsement on your licence. This will stay on your licence for either 4 or 11 years. It also takes 5 years (as an adult) to become spent. In practice, this means that you will need to disclose it to motor insurers until it becomes spent. You may also need to disclose it to an employer, if you need to provide your employer with your driving licence.

Fixed Penalty Notices are not disclosed on basic DBS disclosures. Details of FPN’s are recorded locally by the Police, but they do not form part of the Police National Computer, which is what is used when basic disclosures are carried out.

Usually, when you receive a driving disqualification in court, you will receive an endorsement to your licence. An endorsement is subject to a five year rehabilitation period (as an adult) and your conviction would therefore be spent at the end of the five years and not at the end of the 18 month disqualification.

Unfortunately not. As part of applying for UK citizenship, there will be a check with the Police and other authorities as part of the character check. You will need to give details of all criminal convictions (this used to be just unspent convictions, but it now applies to all). There is further detailed guidance available here.


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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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