Prison Sentences

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 24 May 2024.

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Photo of Lord Blunkett Lord Blunkett Labour

To ask His Majesty's Government, excluding sexual or violent offences, under what circumstances can someone subject to an Imprisonment for Public Protection sentence who has completed their license period have earlier, minor offences dropped from their record.

Photo of Lord Bellamy Lord Bellamy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (the ROA) sets out when an offender is considered to be ‘rehabilitated’ for the purposes of the Act and the relevant rehabilitation periods for cautions and convictions (also referred to as when a caution or a conviction become ‘spent’). This does not mean that an offence is dropped from their record, rather that the offender only needs to disclose the spent caution or conviction in some circumstances.

The ROA also provides that where a person commits another offence before the first has become spent, then the rehabilitation periods for all sentences are extended to the longest period. This is set out in section 6 of the ROA and referred to as ‘the drag on effect’. The ROA sets out that Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) and Detention for Public Protection (DPP) sentences are excluded from rehabilitation and therefore can never become spent, regardless of whether the licence is terminated or not.

A conviction imposed on an offender before a sentence of IPP will not be spent if, at the time the IPP or DPP was imposed, the sentence for that conviction was still in its rehabilitation period. However, any sentence which is not excluded from rehabilitation, and is received after an IPP or DPP sentence is imposed, will become spent in respect of the usual rehabilitation periods set out in section 5 and 6 of the ROA.

The ROA is kept under review but there are no plans to make further changes at this time.

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