Reforms to help reduce reoffending come into force

Reforms which will cut the amount of time some offenders need to disclose details of any low level convictions came into effect this week, Simon Hughes announced on Monday. 

The move is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to tackling reoffending so that offenders can turn their back on a life of crime and can get back into honest work.

However, all offenders will still always have to declare previous convictions when applying for jobs in sensitive workplaces like schools and hospitals or working with people in vulnerable circumstances. The most serious offenders will continue to have to declare their convictions for the rest of their lives when applying for any job.

Ministry of Justice research shows that former offenders who gain employment are less likely to reoffend.

The reforms will also apply retrospectively and will include offenders who are currently serving their sentence.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“These changes are long overdue. They will mean that people who have turned their backs on crime will be able to move on with their lives. Evidence shows that former offenders who are able to get back into the world of work and contribute to society are less likely to reoffend. Making a mistake and committing a minor crime when you are fifteen shouldn’t mean you are barred from employment for the rest of your life.”

Member of Parliament for Bermondsey and Old Southwark and Justice Minister Simon Hughes said:

“The Coalition government is committed to making sure that offenders take responsibility for their actions. But we also need to make sure that ex-offenders are able to contribute to society by getting an honest job and putting their offending behind them.

“These reforms will help guarantee the continued safety of the public. They will also give offenders who have served their sentence a fair chance of getting their lives back on track.”

These reforms will also change the way some rehabilitation periods are set so that they are fairer and reflect better the seriousness of the sentences imposed.

Under the new system, rehabilitation periods for community orders and custodial sentences will comprise the period of the sentence plus an additional specified period, rather than all rehabilitation periods starting from the date of conviction as it is under the current regime. So, for an example, an adult offender sentenced to two and a half years custody, who would previously have had to declare their criminal conviction for ten years from the date of conviction, will now have to disclose their conviction for the period of the sentence plus a further four years (giving a total rehabilitation period of 6.5 years).

Under the reforms the rehabilitation periods will change to:

For custodial sentences:

Sentence length

Current rehabilitation period (applies from date of conviction)

New rehabilitation period is period of sentence plus the ‘buffer’ period below which applies from end of sentence)

0 - 6 months

7 years

2 years

6 - 30 months

10 years

4 years

30 months - 4 years

Never spent

7 years

Over 4 years

Never spent

Never spent

For non-custodial sentences:


Current rehabilitation period (applies from date of conviction)

Buffer period (will apply from end of sentence)

Community order (& Youth Rehabilitation Order)

5 years

1 years



Current period

New period


5 years

1 years (from date of conviction)

Absolute discharge

6 months


conditional discharge, referral order, reparation order, action plan order, supervision order, bind over order, hospital order

Various – mostly between one year and length of the Order

Period of order

As with the current scheme, the above periods are halved for persons under 18 at date of conviction (except for custodial sentences of up to 6 months where the buffer period will be 18 months for persons under 18 at the date of conviction).

We have previously announced radical reforms to the way offenders are rehabilitated, to finally tackle our stubbornly high reoffending rates that currently see almost half of all prisoners commit further crime within a year of release.

The reforms will transform the way offenders are rehabilitated in the community. Chaotic offenders with complex problems need support to turn their lives around, combined with proper punishment.