Sexual Offences and DBS Checks

This section tells you about the recent changes to the sexual offences laws and how these affect previous convictions for offences which have now been de-criminalised. It gives advice on what can and cannot be disclosed in a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and what to do if you wish to get any previous convictions ‘stepped down.

Adult men having sex in public can no longer be charged with gross indecency. Buggery is also no longer an offence. The age of consent for sex between men is 16. These changes to the laws were made following the 2003 Sexual Offences Act and apply retrospectively.

Although the above are no longer sexual offences, you may have a past conviction for gross indecency, buggery or for (consensual) sex with a male between the age 16 and 21. A record of these offences will be held on the police national computer (PNC) and could be disclosed if you or someone else such as an employer, applied for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. However, you can apply to have these previous convictions ‘stepped down’ from your records so they are no longer disclosed by the police.

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