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Suspended prison sentence

Who is it issued by and how can I contact them?

A suspended prison sentence is decided by the courts – contact the relevant court.

Does it involve guilt?

Yes – the sentence is decided after a guilty verdict.

Is it recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC)?


Is it classed as a conviction?


How long will it be on my record?

It will remain on the PNC indefinitely and will be used in any future criminal proceedings. If you breach any of the conditions or commit another crime you will usually go to prison to serve the sentence.

When does it become spent? (over 18)

The rehabilitation period is based on the length of the prison sentence, not the length it was suspended for.

Over 4 years **                                                                                     Length of sentence + 7 years
More than 1 year and less than (or equal to) 4 years                   Length of sentence + 4 years
1 year or less                                                                                         Length of sentence + 1 year

** excludes serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences.

When do I have to declare it?

Before it is spent you have to declare it, when asked, by employers and financial institutions. A prison sentence falls under the protection of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act so after it is spent you don’t have to disclose unless it is for an occupation which is an exception to the Act, like working with children.

Is it disclosed on DBS checks?

The basic disclosure will show only unspent convictions. Standard and enhanced disclosure will disclose a custodial sentence even after it is spent.

What guidance is there on fair process?

There is CPS guidance on sentencing here

What are the implications for life in the community?

A suspended sentence is often coupled with certain requirements such as staying away from certain people or places and doing unpaid ‘community payback’ work, as with the community sentence. During the supervision period these conditions must be met and during the operational period (the period of suspension) any commission of an offence will result in serving the sentence in prison.


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

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