Criminal convictions

As part of the University's duty of care to its students and staff, we ask new students due to attend a campus-based course to declare whether or not they have any 'relevant' criminal convictions. Many other universities do the same.

This page explains why we collect this information, how we collect it, and what we do with it. If you have any questions, please contact us in confidence at convictions@sheffield.ac.uk.

Convictions we consider 'relevant'

We ask new students to declare if they have any 'relevant' criminal convictions, which are unspent convictions for the following offences:

  • Any kind of violence against the person including (but not limited to) threatening behaviour, offences concerning the intention to harm and offences which resulted in actual bodily harm
  • Offences listed in the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • The unlawful supply of controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns commercial drug dealing or trafficking
  • Offences involving firearms
  • Offences involving arson
  • Offences listed in the Terrorism Act 2006

We don't class warnings, penalty notices for disorder (PNDs), anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) or violent offender orders (VOOs) as relevant convictions, unless you've contested a PND or breached the terms of an ASBO or VOO and this has resulted in a criminal conviction.

If your conviction involved an offence similar to those set out above, but was made by a court outside of Great Britain, and that conviction wouldn't be considered spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, you should declare it.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables some convictions to become 'spent' after a rehabilitation period. The rehabilitation period varies depending on the sentence imposed by the court. Custodial sentences of more than two and half years can never become spent. We don't consider spent convictions to be relevant, and you shouldn't declare them.

Why we ask about convictions

There are three main reasons we ask about criminal convictions:

  • Certain sentences and certain probation arrangements involve conditions, for example relating to association or to the use of the internet, that may restrict a student’s engagement with their course. We need to be sure that you can engage with your course as fully as possible, and finding out about any relevant convictions enables us to identify potential obstacles and, where possible, implement solutions.
  • Students with convictions for one of the offences listed above may need additional support whilst at the University. Finding out about any relevant convictions and the circumstances surrounding them enables us to offer this support.
  • The University has a duty of care to all its students and staff. Finding out about relevant convictions also means we can identify any risks posed either to the student themselves, or to other students or staff, and, where possible, implement measures to mitigate them.
Who we ask

We ask for information about relevant convictions from everyone who has accepted an offer of a place on a campus-based course that does not require its students to complete a DBS check.

Applicants for places on courses requiring a DBS check are normally asked in their original application to the University for information about all convictions, and declarations made there are investigated separately. More information is available on our webpages:

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

When and how we ask

Over the summer, we write to all applicants who have accepted an offer on an affected course, asking that anyone with a relevant conviction supplies brief details for us to review.

What we ask for

If you have a relevant conviction, in the first instance we'll just ask you to supply the following brief details:

  • The precise offence for which you were convicted
  • The date of the conviction
  • The sentence you received

Often, this is all we need. Sometimes, we'll ask for more information, for example a statement briefly describing what happened, or a reference from a probation officer.

How to supply convictions information

We'll ask you to send your convictions information to convictions@sheffield.ac.uk. Our team will then get in touch with you.

The convictions@sheffield.ac.uk email address is managed by the Admissions Managers and the Policy Officer within the Admissions Service. No one else has access to it, and the information you supply will not be included as part of your applicant or student record.

How we review your convictions information

When we receive your information, the relevant Admissions Manager (Undergraduate or Postgraduate) will review it. If they need more details from you, or a reference relating to your conviction, we'll let you know.

In most cases, the Admissions Manager will be able to make a decision. For more serious or complex convictions, the Admissions Manager may refer a case to the University's Criminal Convictions Review Panel. This is a group of senior University staff representing key service areas, for example welfare and IT, who are able to assess the full range of potential support requirements and risks. The panel is chaired by the University's Vice President for Education.

When we have a decision, either from the Admissions Manager or from the Criminal Convictions Review Panel, we'll let you know.

Our convictions decisions

Usually, we'll be able to admit you without any adjustments.

Sometimes, we'll propose one or more support arrangements to help you make the transition to living and studying at the University. For example, we might assign a case worker from our Student Transitions and Support team to meet with you each semester. Sometimes, we'll propose restrictions on your activities whilst at Sheffield, to mitigate any risks we've identified. For example, we might propose that you don't engage in outreach work with under 18s, or that you don't live in University accommodation.

Very occasionally, where we've identified a serious risk either to you or to other members of the University community that can't be mitigating by support arrangements or reasonable restrictions, we may have to withdraw our offer for entry to the University that year.

How we store your convictions information

The details you supply about your conviction won't be added to your applicant or student record. These will be stored in the named University email and filestore accounts of the staff reviewing your case only.

How we retain your convictions information

In most cases, the details you supply to us will be deleted from staff files one year after the date on which you were due to start your course. If your case is considered by the Criminal Convictions Review Panel, and you proceed to register at the University, the details will be deleted one year after the end of your registration.

You can find more information about how we manage student records in our Privacy Notice:

Student Privacy Notice

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

If you apply for a place on a course in teaching, social work or health (including Medicine, Nursing and Dentistry), or on a course involving work with children or vulnerable adults, you will need to undergo a full Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau) check. On the application form, you will need to declare if you have any criminal convictions, including spent sentences, cautions (including verbal cautions) and bind-over orders.

All offers of places on these courses are subject to a satisfactory DBS Enhanced Disclosure. If you are made an offer, we will write to you a few months before the start of your course with details of how to arrange this.

If you are living overseas and/or have never been a UK resident, any offer of a place will be subject to the equivalent of a DBS check, normally a satisfactory check from your local police station (for example a Certificate of Good Conduct).

DBS policies for prospective students