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What convictions should I disclose?

If a conviction is 'spent' you do NOT need to disclose it to us or any other insurer- see table below for details of when convictions are 'spent'. If you have multiple convictions you may need to disclose older convictions that would otherwise be 'spent' as later convictions may increase the disclosure period for older offences- see 'Further Convictions' section below chart.

If you have any convictions that are not 'spent' under the 'Rehabilitation of Offenders Act' below then you MUST disclose them to you insurer.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 criminal convictions can become spent or ignored after a rehabilitation period, although they remain on the Police National Computer. The rehabilitation period varies depending on the sentence or order imposed by the court - not the offence. Custodial sentences of more than two and half years can never become spent. The following sentences become spent after fixed periods from the date of conviction:


Rehabilitation period


Age 18 or over when convicted

Age 17 or under when convicted

Prison sentences of 6 months or less, including suspended sentences, youth custody (abolished in 1988) and detention in a young offender institution

7 years

3 and half years

Prison sentences of more than 6 months to 2 and half years, including suspended sentences, youth custody (abolished in 1988) and detention in a young offender institution

10 years

5 years

Borstal (abolished in 1983)

7 years

7 years

Detention Centres (abolished in 1988)

3 years

3 years

Fines (even if subsequently imprisoned for fine default), compensation, probation (for convictions on or after 3 February 1995), community service, combination, action plan, curfew, drug treatment and testing and reparation orders

5 years

2 and half years

Absolute discharge

6 months

6 months


With some sentences, the rehabilitation period varies:


Rehabilitation Period

Conditional discharge or bind-over, probation (for convictions before 3 February 1995), supervision, care-orders

1 year or until the order expires (whichever is longer)

Attendance centre orders

1 year after the order expires

Hospital orders )with or without a restriction order)

5 years or 2 years after the order expires (whichever is longer)

Referral Order

Once the order expires

Further Convictions

If a rehabilitation period is still running and the person concerned commits a minor offence (a 'summary' offence that can only be tried in a magistrates' court), the minor offence will not affect the rehabilitation period still running. The rehabilitation period for each offence will expire separately. (For example, if someone had received a two year probation order, then one year later was fined for a minor offence, the probation order would become spent before the fine. Therefore once the probation order was spent, only the fine would need to be disclosed until it became spent.)

However, if the further offence is one that could be tried in the Crown Court, then neither conviction (even if the first one is for a minor offence) will become spent until the rehabilitation periods for both offences are over. (For example, if someone had received a two year probation order, then one year later was fined for a serious offence, both convictions would have to be disclosed until the fine became spent.) If the further conviction leads to a prison sentence of more than 2 1/2 years, neither conviction will ever become spent.

Once a conviction becomes spent, it remains spent, even if a person is convicted of other offences later


The rehabilitation period for a disqualification is the length of the disqualification. If a person is disqualified at the same time as receiving another penalty, the longer rehabilitation period applies. (For example, if a motorist is banned from driving for seven years and fined - which takes five years to become spent - the rehabilitation period would be seven years, not five years.)


An endorsement is not a 'disability, prohibition or other penalty' within the meaning of the Act, and therefore it cannot affect the rehabilitation period of a motoring conviction. So, for example, if a motorist is fined for drink driving and has his or her licence endorsed, the rehabilitation period would be five years (the length applicable to the fine) rather than 11 years (the length of time before a driver convicted of drink driving is entitled to a clean driving licence).

Concurrent and consecutive sentences
If an offender receives two or more prison sentences in the course of the same proceedings, the rehabilitation period will depend on whether they run concurrently or consecutively. For example two 6 month terms ordered to run consecutively are treated as a single term of 12 months, giving a rehabilitation period of 10 years. But two such sentences ordered to take effect concurrently are treated as one sentence of 6 months, giving a rehabilitation period of 7 years.

Prison sentences ordered to run consecutively to sentences already being served are not affected by this rule.

Criminal Records

A person's offence will still remain on the Police National Computer even after it has become spent - it will not be deleted. Broadly, according to the guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers, records of 'recordable' offences (i.e. offences which can be tried in the Crown Court, whether or not they are) should be deleted after 10 years, unless they show that the offender has 3 or more convictions for recordable offences (in which case the record will be kept for 20 years); has been given custodial sentences (in which case the record will be kept for life); has been convicted of indecency, sexual offences, violence, possession of Class A drugs, or trafficking in, importing of or supply of any drug (in which case the record will be kept for life); been found unfit to plead by reason of insanity, or has been sentenced under the Mental Health Acts (in which case the record will be kept for life); been convicted of an offence involving a child or vulnerable adult where the MO indicates that the person deliberately targets such people ( in which case the record will be kept for life). 

Individual Chief Constables are not bound by the ACPO guidelines so polict and practice will vary between police forces.

Criminal records are generally kept confidential. Broadly, vetting is limited to protecting vulnerable people; to ensuring the probity of the administration of justice; and to matters of national security. This means, for example, that private employers will not usually have access to criminal records. However this is due to change in July 2002 when any employer will be able to obtain details of unspent convictions. Applicants for taxi, heavy goods vehicle and passenger service vehicle licences should also be vetted.


Cautions, reprimands and final warnings are not criminal convictions and so are not dealt with by the Act. So if people with cautions, reprimands or final warnings only are asked whether they have any 'criminal convictions' they can answer 'no'. Sometimes people are asked if they have a 'criminal record'. This is a less precise term, but it is usually understood to mean convictions. So people who are asked if they have a 'criminal record' may also answer 'no' if they have no convictions.

However, people who are specifically asked if they have cautions, reprimands or final warnings should disclose them until they are deleted from police records. Records of cautions should be deleted after five years if there are no convictions on the record. (In practice, some police forces may retain records of cautions for much longer than this or indefinitely.)

Benefits Of The Act

Applying For Insurance

If the proposal form asks whether the applicant has any previous convictions, the answer can be 'no' if the convictions are spent. This is the case even if the conviction is relevant to the risk which the insurers will underwrite. (For example, spent motoring convictions are not required on a proposal form for motor insurance.)


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