Prisoner rehabilitation and employment

July 22, 2019

The government has made a further announcement relating to prisoner rehabilitation, focusing on positive reinforcements. The long term aim is to assist prisoner rehabilitation and prevent re-offending.  Legislation will be passed that changes the circumstances in which certain convictions need to be declared to potential employers.

The current position

Currently, if a conviction is ‘unspent’ it will usually have to be declared.  All sentences from a fine to imprisonment have specified periods of time attached before they can be considered as spent, and that length also depends on the age of the offender.  Certain convictions also need to be disclosed for certain jobs even if they are spent in terms of the time that has elapsed.

Why is this being done?

Statistics show that ex-offenders can find it very difficult to find employment once they are released and that many employers will not employ ex-offenders.  Only 17% of ex-offenders find work within a year of their release.   It is also known that the longer a person can go without re-offending the more likely it is that they will not re-offend at all.  If people are able to get into employment, then this can play a large part in prisoner rehabilitation.

What will change?

There are particular changes aimed at ensuring that people who commit offences as children, but have not committed any adult offences.   The legislation is aimed at trying to remove disproportionate effects on prisoner rehabilitation.  Certain sentences that are over four years long will not have to be disclosed after a specified time has passed. In addition, the time periods, that will be known as ‘rehabilitation periods’, will be shortened for other sentences such as periods of imprisonment of fewer than four years and community sentences.

Will this include all offences and sentences?

Certain violent, sexual or terrorism offences and life sentences are likely to be excluded from the new legislation. Sensitive roles, such as those that involve working with vulnerable adults or children, will continue to be subject to separate and more strict rules.

Will it include all offenders?

Importantly, it will only benefit those that can show that their offending has stopped.  If an ex-offender does go on to re-offend during they will have to tell their employer about the older conviction as well as any new ones.

What are the new time periods?

The actual time periods are yet to be decided on, and the government will be consulting with other agencies in the criminal justice system and relevant bodies before making a final decision.

What happens next?

Following the government consultation referred to above, there will be a detailed outline of the proposals produced. The Supreme Court recently gave a judgment on the rules for the more sensitive roles and government are to consider and respond to this.

How we can assist

If you need specialist advice, on any aspect of your case or advice on prisoner rehabilitation, then contact us at