The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act was originally introduced in order to "wipe the slate clean" for minor offenders, after a suitable elapse of "spent" time – usually 7 years.
This was a progressive libertarian idea, aimed at giving – especially younger/ minor – offenders a better chance of securing employment later in life. (i.e. A "spent" £1 fine for misguided student drunkeness at University should not then remain as an ongoing CRB punishment impacting upon an individual's career prospects for the remainder of their life).
The younger offenders targeted at the time of the passage of the original legislation have now matured and many are seeking middle to senior ranking posts, ordinary/basic CRB checks or not.
However, over recent years, a trend has emerged in the Cabinbet Office Public Appointments Unit, general Civil Service management recruitment, local authorities, universities, the Public Sector generally (and its public recruitmment agents) indicating that the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to the majority of their advertised posts. Hence "spent" convictions must be declared and subjected to "Enhanced" (i.e. gilt-edged) CRB checks,entirely excluded from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act..
In short, Public Sector recruitment has steadily exempted itself from compliance with both the spirit and provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
So, either as a Society we should now repeal the now toothless Act and accept that offenders of any age will be CRB scarred for life or, if we are to opt for progressive liberalism, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act should be strengthened to permit "enhanced" CRB check exceptions ONLY in the cases of posts associated directly with national security. (Child abuse being already covered separately by the register of secual offenders).
Why is this idea important?
Strenuous efforts by the Criminal Justice system, over many years, to rehabilitate offenders are being frustrated by the frequent inability of sometimes long-past offenders to secure public sector employment in their maturity – due to restrictive application forms and needless “enhanced” CRB checks. An 18 year-old offender may still be “paying the price” of his/her conviction when applying for Public Sector posts 40 years later. The Act is being rendered redundant by the Public Sector.