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Deletion of criminal records for convictions and cautions

Having a caution, conviction or even information about a police investigation that you have been subject to on your record can affect you when it comes to applying for:

  1. Disclosure & Barring Service certificates
  2. Applying for jobs and
  3. ACRO Police Certificates when applying for visas.

In some cases, it is possible for a specialist criminal defence solicitor to get information of this nature removed from your record or make representations on your behalf to have information of this nature omitted from certain checks. At Hodge Jones & Allen we have been successful in ensuring that clients have not been prejudiced by having cautions, convictions or information about criminal cases disclosed on DBS certificates or ACRO Police Certificates.

What is a police caution/conviction?

A police caution is an “out-of-court” disposal of a criminal charge. It is a way of dealing with a criminal allegation that avoids taking a person through the court system. If an allegation is made and the person admits that they have committed the offence, the police can in certain circumstances offer that person a caution. If the person accepts the caution then the case goes no further – there is no court hearing and no punishment/sentence. The offence is however recorded against the person on the Police National Computer, thereby giving that person a “criminal record”.

What is a DBS Check?

The DBS is the Disclosure & Barring Service and they are the body with responsibility for performing background checks on people applying for certain types of employment or volunteering role and issuing certificates containing the results of those background checks. There are four types of certificate – basic, standard, enhanced and enhanced with barred list:

  • The basic certificate will disclose any unspent convictions a person has on their record
  • A standard certificate will disclose any unspent convictions and spent convictions or cautions that are not subject to the “filtering” rules
  • An enhanced certificate will disclose any unspent convictions and spent convictions or cautions that are not subject to the “filtering” rules, as well as any “non-conviction” information that the police believe to be relevant to the post applied for
  • An enhanced certificate with barring list will disclose the same information as an enhanced certificate and will also disclose whether or not the applicant is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults

How do you remove a conviction or caution from a DBS Certificate?

You cannot prevent a conviction or caution from being disclosed on a DBS check if it has been correctly disclosed according to the filtering rules. These rules stipulate that convictions and cautions for certain offences will be filtered out and not disclosed after 11 and 6 years respectively (if the person was over 18 – the time periods are 6 years for convictions and 2 years for cautions if the person was under 18), but if a person has more than one conviction or the conviction or caution is for a certain type of offence then that conviction or caution will never be filtered. Some of the filtering rules have been found to be unlawful by the Court of Appeal and a final decision by the Supreme Court on the filtering rules is awaited. If a conviction or caution has been included on a DBS Certificate in error or if the information about it is incorrect then it is possible to apply to the DBS to amend the certificate.

What is an ACRO Police Certificate?

An ACRO Police Certificate is a document that is issued to an individual who wishes to immigrate to certain countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. It discloses whether or not a person has any convictions or cautions recorded against them and is required as part of the visa verification process. Disclosure of convictions and cautions on an ACRO Police Certificate is governed by the ACRO “step down model”, which stipulates that disclosure of convictions and cautions should not take place after a certain amount of time has elapsed since the date of the conviction or caution. The exact length of time differs according to the offence and the sentence that was imposed.

How do you remove a conviction or caution for an ACRO Police Certificate?

It is not possible to prevent a conviction or caution from being disclosed on an ACRO Police Certificate if it has been correctly disclosed according to the step down model.

Can you get a caution removed from your record?

It is possible to have a police caution removed, or “expunged”, from your record in certain circumstances, which means that it would not be disclosed on a DBS or ACRO certificate. If the police failed to follow the correct procedure when the caution was offered at the police station then the caution could be vulnerable to an application for expungement. If you have a police caution and want to explore whether or not you have any grounds to have it expunged, please get in touch with our specialist solicitors who will be happy to give you a free initial consultation.

What are the implications of having a caution or conviction on your record for employment or travelling abroad?

Depending upon the nature and classification of the offence, it could mean that certain jobs are not open to you or that the country you want to emigrate to refuses to grant you a visa.


How do you find out what is on your criminal record?

You can apply to ACRO for a copy of your record on the Police National Computer here.

If you need more detailed information or need to find out if there is any non-conviction information held on you then you should make a Subject Access Request to the police force that you believe to be in possession of the information.

How long does a caution stay on your record?

A police caution will remain on your Police National Computer record until you are deemed to have reached 100 years of age unless it is expunged. Depending upon the nature of the offence, it will either be filtered out of DBS certificates after 6 years or will never be filtered out and always be disclosed.

How long does a conviction stay on your record?

A conviction will remain on your Police National Computer record until you are deemed to have reached 100 years of age. Depending upon the nature of the offence, it will either be filtered out of DBS certificates after 11 years or will never be filtered and always be disclosed.

If you have more than one conviction, does this make a difference?

Yes, it does. If you have more than one conviction on your record then they will always be disclosed and will not be filtered. This rule is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court.

When it is decided that there will be no further action on a matter does this information get removed?

No. If you have been questioned by the police or come to their attention in relation to any criminal allegation then the police will probably hold a record of that on the local system of the force that received the information. That information will remain on the police’s local systems until/unless it is deleted following an internal review or an application by the person whom the information relates to. If your case is NFA’d (No further Action) your fingerprints and DNA will however be deleted automatically (if the police to not seek permission to retain it).

If you would like to speak to one of our criminal defence solicitors, please call 0800 437 0322 or request a call online. We will seek to swiftly allocate the most appropriate person to defend you.

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