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Criminal offences we don't investigate

Reference: FTP-2c-2

Last Updated 31/08/2018

Protected cautions and convictions

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Nurses and midwives need to let us know if they receive a caution or conviction, unless this is for a protected offence.

Protected cautions and convictions are defined differently across the UK.


Cautions in Scotland and Northern Ireland are not protected.

A caution in England and Wales is protected if six years have elapsed since the date of the caution (or two years if the person was under 18 at the time of the offence).


A conviction in England, Wales or Northern Ireland is protected if:

  • eleven years have elapsed since the date of conviction (or five and a half years if the person was under 18 at the time of the offence),
  • it is the person’s only offence,
  • it did not result in a custodial sentence, a sentence of imprisonment or service detention, and
  • it is not for a ‘listed’ offence.

There are separate groups of ‘listed’ offences (serious violent and sexual offences) in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland.

A conviction in Scotland is protected if:

  • it is spent, and
  • appears in the list of offences to disclose subject to rules, and either:
  • the sentence imposed by the court was an admonition or an absolute discharge, or
  • fifteen years have passed since the date of the offence (or seven and a half years if the person was under 18 at the time of the offence).

Under Scots law, there is an additional list of convictions which cannot be protected because they are too serious.

Driving offences and penalty fares

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We will not investigate referrals for motoring offences such as:

  • parking and other penalty charge notices contraventions
  • fixed penalty (and conditional offer fixed penalty) motoring offences
  • penalty fares imposed under a public transport penalty fare scheme.

We will assess other motoring offences on a case by case basis, but will only take regulatory action if this is closely linked to the nurse or midwife’s professional practice, or it suggests there may be a concern about their health.

Drink-driving offences

Drink-driving offences will only call into question a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise if:

  • the offence occurred either in the course of a nurse or midwife’s professional duties, driving to or from those duties, or during on-call or standby arrangements
  • there are aggravating circumstances connected with the offence, or
  • it is a repeat offence.

If a nurse or midwife has been convicted of a drink-driving offence, decision makers should consider whether we need to explore any underlying alcohol issues that indicate the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired because of their health.

In such cases the nurse or midwife’s employer, general practitioner or occupational health department should be contacted for additional information.

Conditional discharges, absolute discharges and admonitions

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We can't argue that the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of that conviction if a nurse or midwife has received the following:

  • a conditional discharge
  • an absolute discharge
  • an admonition in Scotland.

However, we may investigate the underlying misconduct that led to the conviction where the facts suggest particularly serious misconduct, including dishonesty, violence, or sexual offending, especially if it relates to a nurse or midwife’s professional practice.

The guidance in our library, needs to be read alongside our NMC Guidance during the Covid-19 emergency period. We have new rules that are in force during the period of  the coronavirus emergency that are relevant to how it applies.

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