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Case of Lauren

Case of Lauren – consecutive sentences can never become spent

Lauren contacted us for help understanding when her convictions would become spent. She was convicted of two separate offences related to the same incident, all dealt with in the same court proceedings. She was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for cultivating cannabis and a further 18 months for money laundering. The judge ordered that the sentences run consecutively, making Lauren’s total sentence four years and two months.

Where convictions are sentenced in the same proceedings, the rehabilitation period depends on whether the sentences run concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (one after the other). If consecutive sentences are imposed, then the sentences will be added together to calculate the rehabilitation period

As Lauren’s sentences combined were longer than 4 years, neither of her convictions can ever become spent. She will have to disclose them to employers, housing providers or insurers until she is 100 years old.

Lauren said:

I was shocked to find out that my convictions can never become spent. I made one stupid mistake that I will never repeat – if I had committed the same crimes but been convicted on two occasions I would have been able to put this behind me by now. Before this I worked since I left school, but now every employer asks about convictions on their application form so it’s impossible to find a job. 

Lessons from this case

Unlock has long campaigned for fundamental changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA), the legislation that governs the disclosure of criminal records to employers, educational institutions, insurers and housing providers. Changes implemented in 2014 (through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012) focused mainly on reducing rehabilitation periods.

More than 8000 people a year receive a sentence of more than four years – either as a single sentence or as a mixture of consecutive sentences. As the law stands, these can never become spent meaning people will have to declare them for the rest of their life – on job applications, for housing or insurance. An unspent conviction is a lifelong barrier to moving on.

Notes about this case

  1. This case relates to Unlock’s policy work on employment and ROA reform.
  2. Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
  3. Other policy cases are listed here.

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