Changes to disclosure of childhood offending behaviour

Date: 13th January 2021
Category: Age of criminal responsibility, Children in conflict with the law

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The law on sharing information about childhood offending behaviour is changing. This could significantly reduce adverse implications later in life.

The changes are being implemented through three recent pieces of legislation. Two of these came into force on 30th November:

  • Part 2 of the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2019: this has reduced the length of time for which many convictions will be disclosed to potential employers. In addition, all offences established in the Children’s Hearings System will not need to be disclosed on job applications and basic criminal record checks.
  • Part 2 of the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019: information about behaviour when a person was under 12 will no longer need to be disclosed under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. It may be disclosed in enhanced criminal record checks if an independent reviewer agrees with the police on the matter.

Further changes are expected when section 1 of the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 (raising the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12) and the Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020 come into force.

You can find more information on what has changed and what it means for children and young people at the following links:

  • Disclosure Scotland website.
  • Blog by Millie Harris, Clan Childlaw's Legal Policy Officer, on the recent changes.
  • Article by Clan Childlaw including a summary of the changes in the new laws, and an overview of the impact of childhood offending behaviour later in life.
  • Article by Clan Childlaw explaining the disclosure of childhood criminal records and what the Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020 means in practice.
  • Scottish Government’s summary of changes, technical guidancesummary guidance and tables listing disclosure periods.