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Protected spent cautions and convictions

This page contains resources that provide definitions about protected cautions and convictions in the four UK nations.

A student at a medical school in Scotland will not have to disclose receipt of a caution issued in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the medical school – because medical schools apply the law pertaining to the country in which they are based, and in Scotland cautions do not have to be disclosed. But a student at a medical school in Scotland will have to disclose receipt of a caution to us when they apply for registration. Therefore although students don’t have to declare cautions to medical schools in Scotland, it is in their best interest to do so.

England and Wales

As a UK-wide regulator, our overarching objective is to protect the public across all four countries of the UK.

We have powers to require all applicants to disclose their criminal past. These powers apply equally to applicants from any part of the UK or overseas. The powers are set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 ('the Exceptions Order') as amended by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013.

The 2013 amendments to the Exceptions Order mean that certain spent convictions and cautions are protected. This means that you do not need to tell us about them and we can't take them into account when we assess your application for registration.

Protected cautions

You don't need to tell us about a caution if:

  • more than six years have passed since you received the caution (or more than two years have passed if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the caution) and
  • it is not for a ‘listed offence’ (see below).

Protected convictions

You do not need to tell us about a conviction if:

  • it is not for a ‘listed offence’ (see below) and
  • you did not receive a custodial sentence and
  • you have not been convicted of any other offence at any time and
  • more than 11 years have passed since the date of conviction (or more than five years and six months have passed if you were under the age of 18 when convicted).

If you have ever been convicted of more than one offence (whether as an adult or under the age of 18), you must tell us about all of your convictions.

Listed offences

You must tell us about any conviction or caution received for a listed offence. Listed offences include serious violent or sexual offences and other offences, which are relevant to the role of a registered doctor.

They also include equivalent offences for those committed outside of the UK.

You can find the list of offences that will never be filtered from a criminal record and that you must declare on the Disclosure and Barring Service website.

Please note, advice from the Disclosure and Barring Service that it is not possible to capture a definitive list of all equivalent offences under the law of all other jurisdictions. Where you are aware that you have committed an offence overseas which may be equivalent to an offence in the UK you should seek independent expert or legal advice to ensure you provide information that is truthful and accurate.

Further information

The following organisations can provide further information or advice on the amendments to the Exceptions Order 1975 (2013):

Disclosure and Barring Service
Website: www.gov.uk/government/collections/dbs-filtering-guidance
Customer Service: 0870 9090 811

NACRO Resettlement Advice Service
Website: www.nacro.org.uk
Helpline: 020 7840 1212

Unlock
Website: www.unlock.org.uk
Helpline: 01634 247 350

Scotland

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exclusions and Exceptions) (Scotland) Order 2013/50 (‘the Exceptions Order 2013’) makes certain convictions ‘protected’.

Under Scottish law, a protected conviction is defined as:

  • one which is spent 

     and either:

  • it is not a conviction for an offence listed in Schedule A1 or B1 of the Exceptions Order 2013, or
  • it is a conviction for an offence listed in Schedule B1 and at least one of the following three conditions are met:
    • the sentence imposed was an admonition or absolute discharge
    • the person was under 18 at the time of the conviction and at least seven years and six months have passed since the conviction
    • the person was aged 18 or over at the date of conviction and at least 15 years has passed since the conviction.

Northern Ireland

The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) Order 2014/27 amended the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1979 (‘the Exceptions Order 1979’) so as to make certain convictions protected.

Convictions

Under Northern Irish law, a protected conviction is defined as:

  • one given for an offence other than those listed in Article 1A(4) of the Exceptions Order 1979; and
    • the offence did not result in a custodial sentence
    • the person has not been convicted for another offence
    • if the person was aged 18 or over at the time of conviction, 11 years have passed
    • if the person was aged 18 or under at the time of conviction five and a half years have passed.

Cautions

Under Northern Irish law, a protected caution is defined as:

  • one given for an offence other than those specified in Article 1A(4)
  • if aged 18 or over at the date of the caution, six years have passed
  • if aged 18 or under at the time of the caution, two years have passed.