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Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill (PCSC) – What does it mean for you?

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill (PCSC) received royal assent at the end of April 2022.

PCSC includes some major new government proposals on crime and justice in England and Wales; some more controversial than others.

The government have stated that it is their intention to introduce tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes.

However, they have also committed to ensuring that the system is agile enough to give individuals a fair start on their road to rehabilitation which means reducing the time it takes for some sentences/disposals to become spent.

This is something Unlock has been campaigning for over many years and we know the changes will mean that thousands of people each year will benefit from seeing their convictions become spent much sooner. Many will see their chances of getting into paid employment increase and insurance premiums reduced.

Unfortunately, despite receiving royal assent, the changes will not come into effect until sometime in 2023.

The new rehabilitation periods

The table below sets out the proposed rehabilitation periods.

SentenceAdultsUnder 18’s
(Adult) Community OrderEnd of the orderN/A
Youth Rehabilitation OrderN/AEnd of the order
Prison sentence of 1 year or lessSentence + 1 yearSentence + 6 months
Prison sentence of more than 1 year and up to 4 yearsSentence + 4 yearsSentence + 2 years
Prison sentence of more than 4 years **Sentence + 7 yearsSentence + 3.5 years

** excludes serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences.

The changes will reduce the rehabilitation periods for the majority of sentences/disposals. But, one of the biggest changes will be allowing convictions which resulted in a prison sentence of over four years to become spent.

For the very first time, the nature of the offence will be a factor in determining whether a conviction can become spent. The government refers to sentences of over four years which will never be spent as those which relate to “serious violent, sexual and terrorist offences” but the full list of offences can be found here.

An example

Tony was convicted of supplying and offering to supply a controlled drug in January 2016. He received a five-year prison sentence.

Under the existing legislation, Tony’s conviction will never be spent. It will always appear on a basic DBS certificate, and he will always need to disclose it when applying for jobs or when taking out an insurance policy.

When PCSC comes into effect in 2023, Tony’s conviction will become spent in January 2028 (five-year sentence + seven years).

Applying for a new basic DBS certificate?

Until the changes come into effect in 2023, the existing rehabilitation periods will apply. Any unspent convictions will remain on your basic DBS certificate and you will need to continue disclosing your conviction to an employer or insurer.

More information



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Debbie Sadler
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