Do I need to disclose cautions, reprimands or final warnings when applying to a college?

Do I need to disclose my conviction(s) when applying to a college?

What does spent mean?

How long will it take for my criminal record to be spent?

Will I have to disclose my criminal record when applying to a college?

Where can I get help with disclosing my criminal record to a college?

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for health and social care courses?

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for childcare and other child-related courses?

Do I need to disclose cautions, reprimands or final warnings when applying to a college?

In most cases, you will not need to disclose cautions, reprimands or final warnings when applying to a college. Most college courses are covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA), which means that you will not need to disclose offences which are spent. Cautions, reprimands and final warnings are spent immediately (with the exception of conditional cautions, which are spent three months after the date of issue).

If you are applying for a course that requires you to undertake a placement in a health or social care environment, or a school or Further Education (FE) college, you may need to declare your caution(s), reprimand(s) and final warning(s) unless they are protected (i.e. eligible for filtering) .

Do I need to disclose my conviction(s) when applying to a college?

You will need to disclose your conviction when applying to a college if:

  • your conviction is not yet spent under the ROA and the college is asking you for a criminal record declaration (either verbally or in writing)

or

  • your conviction is spent, but not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering) and you are applying for a course that will involve a placement role that is exempt from the ROA. Roles that are exempt from the ROA are those that are eligible for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. For a full list, please see here.

If you are not sure whether you need to disclose your conviction when applying to a college, please contact us the Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

What does spent mean?

Once a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning becomes spent, it means that you do not need to disclose it when applying for most educational courses, most jobs, insurance or other purposes (e.g. applying for housing). It is against the law for a college to obtain information about your spent cautions or convictions unless you are applying for a course that will require you to do a placement in a role that is exempt from the ROA (e.g. certain placements in a health and social care environment, or a school or FE college).

How long will it take for my criminal record to be spent?

The length of time it will take for your criminal record to be spent will depend on:

  • The disposal or sentence you received
  • Your age at the time of conviction

If you know this information, you can find out how long it will take for your criminal record to be spent here.
The law can be quite complicated to understand, so if you are not sure about whether your criminal record is spent, you can contact the Resettlement Advice Service for advice on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

Will I have to disclose my criminal record when applying to a college?

In most cases, colleges will not carry out a criminal record check. For most courses, the college is entitled to ask you to apply for a basic check through Disclosure Scotland or Access Northern Ireland (if you live in Northern Ireland) which will disclose unspent convictions only.

For certain courses, such as those that require a placement in a health or social care environment, or a school or FE college, the college is entitled to request a DBS check which will disclose spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands which are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

Where can I get help with disclosing my criminal record to a college?

We have a guide on disclosing criminal records that you may find useful when disclosing your criminal record.

If you would like further advice about disclosing your criminal record to a college or placement provider, please contact the Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for health and social care courses?

Yes. Having a criminal record does not mean that you cannot study or work with children or vulnerable groups in the health and social care sector.
Most health and social care courses will require a placement in a relevant setting. To do the placement, you will probably be asked to apply for a DBS certificate, which will disclose details of your spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

Before you apply for your DBS certificate, it is a good idea to tell the college of any offences that will be disclosed on your certificate. This is best done in the form of a disclosure statement. Please see our guide on disclosing criminal records for advice about preparing a disclosure statement, or contact the Resettlement Advice Service if you need some help.

The Health and Care Professions Council regulates many professions in the health and social care sector. You can find their guidance on how they assess criminal records upon registration here.

If you have been advised, either by a support worker or a college, that you cannot do a health or social care course or work with vulnerable groups because of your criminal record, please contact the Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for childcare and other child-related courses?

Yes. Having a criminal record does not mean that you cannot study or work with children.

Most childcare courses will require a placement in a nursery or similar environment with children. To do the placement, you will probably be asked to apply for a DBS certificate, which will disclose details of your spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

Before you apply for your DBS certificate, it is a good idea to tell the college of any offences that will be disclosed on your certificate. This is best done in the form of a disclosure statement. Please see our guide on disclosing criminal records for advice about preparing a disclosure statement, or contact the Resettlement Advice Service if you need some help.

If you have been advised, either by a support worker or a college that you cannot do a childcare course or work with children because of your criminal record, please contact the Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.