1. Disclosure of Spent Convictions in Court Proceedings
Section 3(2)(a), (aa), (b) and (c) of the RHO allow spent convictions to come into evidence in proceedings relating to the interests of an infant and in applications to become a foster parent. In proceedings relating to infants, the welfare of the infant is the first and paramount consideration. In these situations, it is right that the court should have access to all material that could be relevant to the decision it has to make.
Spent convictions can also be introduced as evidence in child-custody hearings in divorce proceedings. What, if any, effect the spent conviction has in those proceedings depends upon the circumstances of each case and the offence leading to the conviction. A conviction for careless driving, for example, is unlikely to have any relevance in custody proceedings.
Similarly, in applications to become a foster parent, a broad view needs to be taken to ensure that children’s interests are protected. Again, the effect, if any, of the spent conviction depends on the offence and how long ago it was. A spent conviction for a sexually related offence or an offence of dishonesty would, depending on the circumstances of the particular case, be more relevant than a conviction for a motoring offence.
Spent convictions can also come into evidence if the convicted persons consent to the admission of evidence relating to those convictions or want to bring the convictions into evidence for their own reasons, or in any proceedings where the tribunal is satisfied that justice cannot be done except by admitting evidence relating to the convictions.