This page contains comments that we received from people with convictions, relating to the 2014 reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
“As a result of the changes, my conviction will become spent in late 2015, rather than never becoming spent.
This will mean I can get home insurance, life insurance and much cheaper car insurance, as well as making it easier to apply for jobs should I choose to leave the one I’m currently in.”
“It’s difficult to describe the burden of disclosure. I’ve actively avoided applying for jobs on the basis that I’ll either be rejected out of hand or that I will have to face to inevitable issue of going through a part of my life that is physically painful to recall personally, let alone to another person I hardly know.
For me this isn’t just about employment, it’s about being able to lay to rest my past such that if someone does decide to raise my history I can, quite legitimately, say that the law is on my side in saying I’ve paid my debt to society”
“I have had to wait a long time for this. In the past I have told the truth with some offensive comments from prospective employers. In fact it encouraged me to lie.
My expectations work wise are not high, but a job at Asda is now possible! Whereas no way would they employ me with unspent convictions. I didn’t know until my release that it would be unspent for the remainder of my life and that I had to disclose! No one would touch me. I had written to my MP requesting when these changes will come in but to no avail. These will or should help me, even though I’m in my fifties now!!”
“My convictions will become spent much sooner than they would have under the old legislation. For my most recent conviction of 30 weeks in custody, that would become spent in December 2014.
I believe it is important to show the public how the changes can help to better the chances of ex-offenders to improve their lives for society and themselves.”
“I have a job at the moment but I’ve only been working the last 5 months after finding a job that did not ask me if I had any convictions so now I will be able to look for jobs more easily (if needed) and means I don’t’ have to worry about being asked if I have convictions unless a standard or enhanced check is needed. It took me almost two years to find this job and apart from that I only had a small mystery shopping type role that I still hold and only get jobs from now and then so if I hadn’t been living with my parents still I do not know what I would have done about money etc. It will be a relief mentally as well as I don’t need to worry so much about work suddenly asking anything to do with convictions.”
“The changes mean than that from 2016, my conviction will finally be classed as spent. My biggest frustration prior to the changes was that I was sentenced for 40 months.
Despite my sentence finishing in May 2009, and in the eyes of society I have “paid my debt to society” and am now a free man, under previous rules of the ROA it actually felt that I had a life sentence imposed as in certain instances one was continually discriminated against when applying for jobs, getting insurance or trying to get simple day to day things that require filling in forms. It seemed that one was never able to move on with life. I guess I was always judged for a previous mistake and could never move forward.
It’s just a shame that it will still make travelling difficult to certain countries. I recently had a close family bereavement in America, and unfortunately I could not attend the funeral and be there for my family. I appreciate that other countries have their own rules and laws.”
“My conviction from 2010 resulting in a 3 year Community Order will become spent a year earlier than under the old ROA. Does this give me a better life than the present moment? No, it enhances it.
No longer will I be rejected by, or expected to pay higher insurance premiums with, the majority of mainstream insurers due to the perceived increased risk. I will now have access to more suitable accommodation in the social housing sector; previous experience has shown that in my area it is extremely difficult or impossible to get on a waiting list with an unspent conviction.
My old life, pre conviction, was a car crash waiting to happen in one way or another. It needed to happen as. Retrospectively, I would not be here now. The conviction and sentence was my final chance to improve and better my life. My close friends argue that the changes to the ROA give me a new life, I disagree. The changes mean the end of one chapter of my life and the beginning of another. A new life would imply that the past is simply forgotten; I use my past as both the reminder and motivator for my current and future life.”
“The law when I was convicted meant that my conviction would become spent in 2016. As a result of the changes, it will became spent immediately when the changes came into force.
I have had problems with job-hunting, since I have been put off applying for any position that demands disclosure of unspent convictions. I had problems with a previous employer to whom I didn’t disclose my conviction during the application process (because I was not asked). Some weeks after I had started the job, she found out about my conviction and she panicked.
Although I didn’t lose my job, I was given a much lower-profile position than we had originally discussed, even though the conviction had no relevance whatsoever to the job. Once my conviction is spent, if a similar thing happens in future, I will be on stronger ground as discriminating on the basis of a spent conviction is unlawful. Lastly, I have been paying a greatly elevated premium for home insurance.”
“I will be able to accept jobs that I could not accept now, I will be able to get cheaper insurance. I will be able to get insurances I currently cannot get. Most importantly, I will be stopped being discriminated against. I will stop living in fear. My life will get stability.”
Notes about this case study
This case study relates to Unlock’s work to reform the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
Important links relating to this case study include our practical guide, information and resources on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.