What is it?
It operates using the rehabilitation periods as they apply in England & Wales. It was updated in March 2014 to reflect the changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
The need to interpret complex legislation means that many people with a criminal record do not benefit from their legal rights under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, making it harder for them to reintegrate into society. Unlock’s web tool makes it simple to calculate when convictions become ‘spent’ and no longer need to be disclosed to employers and insurers, removing the discrimination which acts as a barrier to successful reintegration. The calculator meets the needs of both individuals and organisations working with people with criminal records.
A detailed user guide has been developed to take users step-by-step through how to use the calculator.
What are the benefits of it?
The ROA is difficult to understand
While at first glance the ROA can appear to be quite simple, individuals with multiple convictions, non-standard sentence/disposals and a mixture of different sentences can struggle to understand when their record is spent.
It produces instant results
As the ROA is subject to specific rules (detailed in legislation), it has been technically possible to develop an electronic tool which produces instant results based on the information inputted.
It’s free to use for individuals with a criminal record and their family/friends
The calculator can be used by individuals free of charge.
You don’t have to talk on the phone about your criminal record
The calculator provides an efficient way for people who have access to a computer to quickly find out whether their record becomes spent.
Official disclosure routes are expensive and can take a while
- A basic DBS disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service costs £25, takes up to 14 days (and sometimes longer)
- A Police Subject Access Report from your local Police Force costs £10, takes up to 40 days, and provides details of all convictions held on the PNC – it doesn’t differentiate between those which are spent and those which are unspent.
- A standard DBS check costs £26, and takes up to 2 weeks. An DBS enhanced check cost £44, and takes up to 4 weeks. These checks provide details of all convictions – they don’t differentiate between those which are spent and those which are unspent. They also cannot currently be obtained by individuals
- If you do not know the details regarding your criminal record, you may have to obtain a copy of your record (usually, a Police Subject Access Report is best). This will ensure that the correct information is inputted.
Organisations can use it as part of their services
If you are an organisation or professional, a multiple-use account will enable you to use the calculator as part of the services or support that your provide. This is particularly important for those services that work with clients who either do not have internet access or would struggle to use the calculator without support.
Why was it developed?
It is desperately needed
Despite the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act having been round for over 40 years, knowledge of it is poor – too many people misunderstand how their criminal record is treated under this law.
On a daily basis, our helpline receives contact from people who have either disclosed a spent conviction to an employer or insurer when they didn’t need to (but are subsequently rejected), or have mistakenly believed that their criminal record was spent and so didn’t disclose it, but this has since been found out and they are facing difficulties as a result.
It supports the argument for reform
The fact that we have had to develop a sophisticated calculator to determine when a criminal record becomes spent shows how complicated the current ROA is. It also evidences how, for many cases, individuals have to disclose their criminal record for long (and sometimes never ending) periods of time.
It can easily be updated
As reforms happen, the calculator can be quickly and simply amended to reflect the changes so that people can quickly find out how the reforms impact on them.
How was it developed?
The calculator was produced with the kind support of the Persula Foundation, using the expert knowledge of Unlock staff on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and with the technical support of Peter Cooper, an independent programmer.
The calculator has been subject to a rigorous testing phase involving numerous parties, to ensure that it is operating in line with the relevant legislation.
How do I use it?
If you are an individual with a criminal record and want to enquire about your own criminal record, or you are a friend/family member who is enquiring on their behalf, you can use the tool for free. A detailed user guide has been developed to take you step-by-step through how to use the calculator.
If you are an organisation or professional and want to use the calculator, for example as part of a service or on behalf of a client, you can set up a ‘multiple use’ account.
How can I support it?
If you have found the calculator useful, please consider making a donation. This will help us to continue to support the Calculator and allow it remains free to use for individuals.
To help us monitor and improve our work, we always welcome feedback.
If you have any questions about how to use the Calculator which are not covered in the user guide, you can contact our Helpline.