Convictions and higher level disclosures

Last updated: 19 February 2018

Standard disclosure, enhanced disclosure and the PVG scheme are known as higher level disclosures. The conviction information shown on your higher level disclosure certificate is decided by law.

If you have a higher level disclosure, your certificate will show:

A spent conviction is a criminal conviction that under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, can be treated as 'spent' - ignored or forgotten - after a certain length of time.

Spent convictions that are disclosed according to rules

There's a list of offences that are disclosed according to rules for offences such as fraud, theft or simple assault. If you have a spent conviction for an offence on this list, Disclosure Scotland follows rules about the length of time they will disclose it for.

The rules are that these convictions will appear on your disclosure for:

  • 15 years, if you were 18 or over at the date of conviction
  • 7 years and 6 months, if you were under 18 at the date of conviction

Disclosure Scotland will issue a certificate only to you at first, and won't immediately issue a certificate to the person who countersigned your application.

Spent convictions which must be disclosed

If you have a spent conviction for an offence on the list of offences that must be disclosed (which includes serious offences such as rape and other sexual offences, assault to severe injury, and certain terrorism and firearms offences), the law about when you are able to make an application to a sheriff is different.

In some cases, these convictions will be included on your certificate, which will be sent to you and the person who countersigned your application.

However, if a certain amount of time has gone by, Disclosure Scotland will issue a certificate only to you at first, and won't immediately issue a certificate to the person who countersigned your application.

These time periods are:

  • 15 years, if you were 18 or over at the date of conviction
  • 7 years and 6 months, if you were under 18 at the date of conviction

Applying to have spent convictions removed

If you have a spent conviction for an offence that is disclosed according to rules, or for an offence that must be disclosed (and the necessary time from the date of conviction has elapsed), you can apply to have it removed from your disclosure certificate if you think it isn't relevant.

Apply to a sheriff

You must apply to a sheriff who will make a decision about whether or not to remove the conviction information from your disclosure certificate. Disclosure Scotland can't make this decision about removal of conviction information.

To apply, you must:

  • make sure the conviction is spent and is on either the list of offences that are disclosed according to rules, or on the list of offences that must be disclosed
  • if the offence is on the list of offences that must be disclosed, make sure that either 15 years (if you were 18 or over at the date of conviction) or 7 years and 6 months (if you were under 18 years at the date of conviction) have passed
  • contact Disclosure Scotland within 10 working days of the date of issue on your disclosure certificate to advise you intend to make an application to the sheriff
  • make your application to the sheriff within 3 months of telling Disclosure Scotland you're going to apply
Once you've told Disclosure Scotland that you want to apply to a sheriff, it can't send out the countersignatory's (employer) copy of the disclosure until the sheriff has reached a decision on the application. This may delay an employer from making a job offer.

When applying to a sheriff, you should:

  • apply to your local sheriff court
  • tell the clerk of the sheriff court you want to make a summary application
  • if it relates to a standard or enhanced disclosure under the Police Act, make the application under section 116ZB(2) of the Police Act 1997
  • if it relates to a PVG scheme record disclosure, make the application under section 52A(2) of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007
  • include relevant information, such as the date of your disclosure certificate and the date you notified Disclosure Scotland
  • explain why your conviction is not relevant

If you change your mind

If you decide not to make an application to the sheriff, you can email Disclosure Scotland at HLC.Release@disclosurescotland.gsi.gov.uk within 10 working days of the date of issue of your disclosure certificate. They can then still release the countersignatory copy of the certificate to your employer or other registered body.

You must contact Disclosure Scotland to tell them you're going to withdraw your application to a sheriff within 10 working days, otherwise the countersignatory's copy of your certificate will no longer be available. If you decide after 10 working days to withdraw your application to a sheriff and you still need a disclosure certificate, you'll have to apply again and pay the appropriate fee.

Decisions by the sheriff about the removal of convictions

The sheriff's decision on an application is final and will be acted on by Disclosure Scotland. If the sheriff has ordered that conviction information should be removed, Disclosure Scotland will do a fresh criminal record check on the applicant before they issue a new standard or enhanced disclosure, or PVG scheme record.

Get help

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website has more information on how to make a summary application to a sheriff court.

You can email Disclosure Scotland at:

info@disclosurescotland.gsi.gov.uk

Or write to them at:

Disclosure Scotland
PO box 250
Glasgow
G51 1YU