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The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (1974 Act) aims to support the rehabilitation of reformed offenders by providing specific periods—subject to the sentence passed or disposal administrated—after which cautions and convictions become ‘spent’, and an individual is regarded as rehabilitated. The Bill aims to reduce the rehabilitation periods of various sentences, and introduce a rehabilitation period for sentences exceeding four years (48 months), which are currently never ‘spent’. There have been criticisms of the 1974 Act and previous governments have attempted to make changes. The most recent changes were made by section 139 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which reduced the rehabilitation periods for both custodial and non-custodial sentences and increased the upper limit to include sentences of up to four years (and applying retrospectively).

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