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Navigating Changes in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act – October 2023(England & Wales): A Safer Recruitment Perspective

10k Schools

Author: 10k Schools

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Today, I’d like to shed light on recent developments in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA), particularly for our colleagues in England and Wales.

As of October 28, 2023, the ROA has undergone noteworthy amendments, distinct from those in 2020. The core objective of the ROA remains to support individuals with criminal records, offering them enhanced access to employment opportunities.

Here are the key changes:


  1. Automatic Disclosure of Unspent Cautions and Convictions: From October 28, 2023, “all unspent conditional cautions and convictions (as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act) will be automatically disclosed.”
  2. Shortened Rehabilitation Periods: Custodial sentences of four years or more for less severe offenses become “spent” after a seven-year rehabilitation period.Custodial sentences exceeding 1 year and up to 4 years will become spent four years post-sentence conclusion.Custodial sentences of up to 1 year will become spent one year after sentence completion. Community Orders and Youth Rehabilitation Orders will become spent on the final day of the order.

It’s essential to note that offenses of a serious sexual, violent, or terrorist nature remain exempt from these changes to ensure public safety.

Implications for the Education Sector and Safer Recruitment:
These changes introduce a shift in what basic checks reveal. Convictions once deemed “unspent” will now be classified as “spent” in certain instances. Conversely, in limited circumstances, a Standard or Enhanced DBS check may provide more information than before.

Despite these changes, schools and academies must continue evaluating an individual’s suitability to work with children in line with their Statutory Safeguarding Obligation and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Discrimination based on a candidate’s disclosed history is discouraged, and rigorous risk assessments are crucial when offenses are revealed.

Action Items:


  1. Update employment application forms and recruitment packs to guide candidates on disclosure.
  2. Schools and academies aren’t mandated to re-check all employees; this change applies to DBS applications initiated on or after October 28, 2023.

In your school, do you Know Your People? Do you re-check all employees periodically or is it a one off as part of the initial hiring process?

Let’s stay informed and ensure our recruitment practices align with these crucial adjustments. I know that these are UK centric but will it impact the way in which you administer background checks.

Your thoughts and experiences on this matter are most welcome.

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