In England and Wales, a court can impose an absolute discharge if it concludes that 'it is inexpedient to inflict punishment'. The power to do this is granted by s12(1) Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000.
Section 14(1) of the Act provides that—
... a conviction of an offence for which an order is made under section 12 above discharging the offender absolutely or conditionally shall be deemed not to be a conviction for any purpose other than the purposes of the proceedings in which the order is made ...
However, the Crown Prosecution Service's guide to sentencing says this:
Absolute discharge - no further action is taken, since either the offence was very minor, or the court considers that the experience has been enough of a deterrent. The offender will receive a criminal record.
(emphasis mine in both extracts)
If a person receives an absolute discharge and also a criminal record, surely this is treating the discharge as a conviction, which appears to fly in the face of s14(1) above.
Does an absolute discharge result in a criminal record and, if so, how is this squared with s14(1) of the 2000 Act?