What are spent convictions?

From 2001 to last year, a total of 157,369 convicted offenders have had their criminal records rendered as " spent" under the Registration of Criminals Act.

To qualify for a record to be spent, the offender must not have been sentenced to an imprisonment term exceeding three months or to a fine exceeding $2,000. They must also satisfy a five-year crime- free period, among other criteria.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, in a written reply to a parliamentary question in February, said that based on these criteria, those who have had their records spent since 2005 include people who committed minor offences, such as shop theft, as well as foreigners, most of whom are immigration offenders.

Of the 157,369 people who had their criminal records rendered spent as of Dec 31, 68,792 were Singaporeans and permanent residents.

Of the 88,577 foreigners who had their criminal records rendered spent as of Dec 31, more than half (47,836 persons) were convicted for entering or attempting to enter Singapore without a valid pass, he added.

But the number of offenders with convictions rendered spent has declined steadily from 7,618 in 2006 to 2,888 last year.

K. C. Vijayan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'What are spent convictions?'. Print Edition | Subscribe