The number of people with unspent convictions

by / Wednesday, 13 August 2014 / Published in Latest, News for employers, News on policy issues, Way ROA works

We regularly get asked how many people have unspent convictions.

Since the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act was amended in March 2014, the number of people whose conviction is unspent is expected to have reduced significantly, but nobody really knows by how much.

So, as a first attempt, we’ve pulled together some data which tries to do this, and the key findings are below.

 

 

Key findings

  1. Before the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 reforms, which came into force on the 10th March 2014, there were approximately 2,514,987 individuals with unspent convictions in England & Wales.
  2. Following the reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which came into force on the 10th March 2014, there were approximately 735,652 individuals with unspent convictions in England & Wales.
  3. 7,232 individuals receive a conviction each year that can never become spent.

 

Additional findings

  • 2.03% of people that apply for a basic disclosure in England & Wales have unspent convictions disclosed.
  • 6.94% of people that apply for a basic disclosure in Scotland have unspent convictions.
  • 89% of the basic disclosures that Disclosure Scotland carry out are for people in England & Wales.

 

Got a different way of working this out?

We are interested in hearing about the efforts of others to better define the number of people with  unspent convictions. Please send your thoughts to policy@unlock.org.uk or comment on this post below.

  • admin

    Hi Chris. Thanks for the comment. You’re right to flag up the number of motoring convictions, and the technical problems these raise in terms of how they are treated under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

    However, the data we’ve looked at comes at this from the opposite end – i.e. what is being disclosed on basic disclosures. This avoids some of the discrepancies that exist amongst all types of convictions – i.e. that not everything is recorded on the Police National Computer.

    We expect this to be one of the major reasons why the difference between the number of convictions are the number of people with unspent convictions being disclosed – i.e. that the majority of motoring convictions do not get recorded on the Police National Computer, and so are not being disclosed on basic disclosures issued by Disclosure Scotland.

  • Chris Proctor

    Hi, thanks for the explanation. I thought that may be the case. However, I think that the wording in the first few paragraphs is slightly misleading as it creates the impression that you are talking about all unspent convictions and does not specify that only relates to disclosures made by Disclosure Scotland. I am not entirely sure that I understand the message you are trying to convey. Could you please explain what the purpose of this research is and what you are aiming to achieve?

    • admin

      At this stage, the purpose is to ‘test’ the calculations that we’ve made, as this is the first attempt that we know of in understanding the ‘unspent conviction’ population when it comes to disclosures, which is where the ‘impact’ of unspent convictions most obviously materialises.

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