In real terms, a UK ‘police clearance’ document doesn’t actually exist; and in any event, any ‘spent’ convictions (i.e. a person’s criminal convictions that were imposed by a court more than a certain time ago) are not recorded on it anyway! But there is a document you can obtain to prove to others that you have NO ‘unspent’ criminal convictions; it is called a 'Basic Disclosure' certificate. Before applying, please check the following information below:
In the UK, the general rule of thumb on spent criminal convictions varies according to the offence. For people aged 18 or over when convicted:
Most convictions become spent after five years
Prison sentences up to six months become spent after seven years
Prison sentences up to two and a half years become spent after ten years
Sentences over 2.5 years are never spent.
The Basic Disclosure Certificate contains details of any convictions considered 'unspent' under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act of 1974, and a record of those convictions is held on the UK’s Police National Computer (PNC).
The Basic Disclosure is applied for by, and issued only to, the applicant concerned. It is then the certificate holder’s choice whether they show the disclosure to an employer or anyone else. A Basic Disclosure is not job-specific and may be used more than once.
As most convictions become spent after five years, it’s probably a good idea to obtain a certificate every five years so that it is effectively ‘current’.
There are two further, more detailed levels of disclosure, but these can only be obtained by an employer or other body that is legally entitled to ask for the disclosure.
There are three levels of Disclosure: Basic, Standard and Enhanced.
Standard Disclosures are primarily for posts that involve working with children or vulnerable adults; they may also be issued for people entering certain professions, such as members of the legal and accountancy professions.
The Standard Disclosure contains details of all convictions held on the PNC including current and 'spent' convictions as well as details of any cautions, reprimands or final warnings. The Standard Disclosure also includes information held by the UK Department of Health of those people considered unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults.
Enhanced Disclosures are for posts involving a far greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults.
In general the type of work will involve regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of such people, for example teachers, scout or guide leaders. Enhanced Disclosures are also issued for certain statutory purposes such as gaming and lottery licences.
An Enhanced Disclosure also includes a check on local police records. Where local police records contain additional information that might be relevant to the post the applicant is being considered for.
The only way obtain a Basic Disclosure certificate for oneself in the UK is by applying to this organisation: ‘Disclosure Scotland’.
It’s really not a very appropriately named organisation, because it’s nomenclature gives the impression that it only issues basic Disclosure Certificates to individuals in Scotland! Fortunately that isn’t the case, so if you are a UK resident and you would like a Basic Disclosure certificate, visit their website by clicking the logo here.
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