Prison Sentences

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 4 April 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 are extended to the longest period. The ROA sets out that, as with other indeterminate sentences, IPP sentences can never become spent, regardless of whether the licence is terminated or not. The same, therefore, applies to any unspent caution or conviction imposed on the offender prior to the IPP sentence.

We have taken action through the Victims and Prisoners Bill to curtail IPP licence periods to give offenders the opportunity to move on with their lives. Whether the ROA should be reviewed in the light of these changes would require further consideration in the context of indeterminate sentences generally.

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