Convictions and higher level disclosures

Last updated: 1 February 2018

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

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

  • all unspent convictions
  • certain spent convictions that must always be disclosed
  • other spent convictions as set out by law
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.

Applications for basic disclosure will be processed according to the Scottish rules under the Rehabilitation periods for particular sentences section of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Spent convictions that must always be disclosed

If you have a spent conviction for an offence on the always disclose list (PDF), you must disclose it to a prospective employer when asked.

The always disclose list is for serious convictions, for example murder, rape or terrorism. These types of offences always appear on a higher level disclosure regardless of how old they are and what the punishment was.

If you're an employer, you're legally allowed to ask someone who works for you or that you might want to employ, to disclose if they have any:

  • unspent convictions
  • spent convictions for offences on the always disclose list

Spent convictions that must be disclosed subject to rules

There's a separate rules list (PDF) for offences like fraud, theft or simple assault. If you have a spent conviction for an offence on this list, Disclosure Scotland follows rules set out in law, about the length of time they will disclose them.

The rules are:

  • 15 years, if you were 18 or over at the date of conviction
  • 7 and a half years, if you were under 18 at the date of conviction
If you're an employer, it is illegal to ask a prospective employee about a spent conviction on the rules list, until it has been disclosed to you by Disclosure Scotland.

Applying to have spent convictions removed

If you have a spent conviction for an offence on the rules list, you can apply to have it removed from your disclosure certificate if you think it isn't relevant to your work.

How to appeal

To get a new certificate with the convictions removed you must apply to a sheriff. To apply, you must:

  • make sure the conviction is spent and is on the rules list
  • contact Disclosure Scotland within 10 working days of the date of issue on your certificate
  • 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 a job offer.

When applying to a sheriff you should:

If you change your mind

To withdraw your notification of application, email Disclosure Scotland at within 10 working days of the date of issue of your disclosure certificate. They can then 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 then still need a disclosure certificate, you'll have to apply again and pay the appropriate fee.

Appeal application decisions

The sheriff's decision on an application is final and will be acted on by Disclosure Scotland. They'll do a fresh criminal record check on the applicant before it issues 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:

Or write to them at:

Disclosure Scotland
PO box 250
G51 1YU