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Our mission is to support & advocate for people with criminal records to be able to move on positively in their lives. Find out more

Do you have a conviction that will never be spent?

Unlock has long campaigned for fundamental changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA), 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 every year receive a sentence of more than four years. 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.
We think this should change and that’s we we’re campaigning for ROA reform. As part of our campaign, we use case studies to show why reform is necessary to help law abiding people with convictions move on.

What we need from you

If you have a conviction that can never become spent (i.e. a prison sentence of over 4 years), please contact us at using the subject header ‘Call for evidence: ROA reform’. Please include:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • Contact details (email and/or telephone) and how you’d like us to contact you
  • The details of all your cautions/convictions including dates and a DBS certificate if you have one
  • The difficulties you’ve faced, recently or in the past, as a result of your criminal record not becoming spent
  • If you would be willing to contribute to any media coverage on this issue in future (this is for our reference, we won’t share your details without consent)

Any information you provide will be kept in line with our confidentiality policy. Any personal information provided to us will not be shared externally without your consent.

Find out more about how we handle your data

Find out more about our work on ROA reform.



Add Comment
  1. There is an upcoming change to traveling in the EU it’s the Etias visa system . I served an 8 month sentence in 2000 for unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 . Is this a never spent conviction will I have disclose it .

    1. Hi Glen

      I can confirm that you conviction from 2000 is now considered spent.

      When the new ETIAS system is introduced (likely to be sometime in 2023) applicants will be asked to disclosed any relevant offences in the past 15 years (20 years in the case of terrorism offences). As your conviction is now some 22 years old, you wouldn’t need to disclose it on the ETIAS application form.

      Best wishes


  2. I received a 2 year probation order in 1995 for unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 my employer has suddenly requested an enhanced DBS check will this show or is it spent and therefore will not show

    1. Hi Martin

      I can confirm that under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) your conviction is now spent and would no longer appear on a basic DBS check. However, roles which require either a standard or enhanced DBS check are exempt from the ROA and these employers are entitled to know about both spent and unspent convictions unless the conviction is eligible to be filtered (removed) – Unfortunately, due to the nature of the offence, your conviction from 1995 would not be eligible for filtering and would appear on your enhanced DBS certificate.

      It’s important to note that employers are only entitled to carry out an enhanced DBS check if the role is eligible ( and it may be worth checking whether your job is eligible for this level of DBS check. Feel free to give the Unlock helpline a call if you require any further information. Our telephone number is 01634 247350.

      Best wishes


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Photo of Helpline lead, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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