Not every job will require the applicant to go through a police checking process before starting work, but if you are thinking of a career working with children, or in professions such as nursing or teaching, applying for a check through the Disclosure and Barring Service is part of the process. A main concern of many applicants is that minor offences or cautions from years in the past will come back to haunt them, and that may mean that they are blocked from taking their new dream job. Under UK law, some convictions are considered “spent” in certain circumstances and that means that often they do not have to be disclosed and will not show up on any police checks.

What Types of Convictions Can Be Considered Spent?

Serious crimes will always show up on a DBS check, or on the equivalent types of check carried out in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Any crimes of a sexual or violent nature will always have to be declared and will show up on disclosure checks, as will any types of crimes which resulted in a prison sentence. If you have more than one conviction, even if they are for different types of offence and happened many years apart, these will also be shown on a DBS check form. The spent convictions system is designed to deal with those “moment of madness” offences which are generally out of character for the person concerned, and which happened just once and a long time ago.

Offences As A Minor

The law also recognises that people under the age of 18 is entitled to have more protection under the law than someone who is an adult. Minor convictions which are not of a sexual or violent nature and which happened before the person reaches the age of 18 are considered “spent” after five and a half years, and any cautions can be disregarded after two years. This means that after this time, the convictions do not need to be declared and will not show up on DBS forms. If you are unsure of whether the type of offence you have a caution of conviction for is one which can be considered to be spent or not, get advice from your local Police station or from advice organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau.

Exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Sometimes, job adverts will state that the position is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This usually applies when the positions have a great deal of responsibility, or when the job means being in sole charge of vulnerable groups or providing services such as nursing or personal care. If a DBS check is being carried out for a job which is considered exempt, then the “spent convictions” does not apply and any convictions and cautions, along with any other relevant information the Police holds, will be stated on the form. It is then up to the employer to look at the type of conviction and the severity and decide whether or not to employ the person.