Wipetheslateclean: a non-political campaign


9.2 million people in the UK have criminal records.

Should every a criminal record be a sentence for life?

It’s time for an informed debate about the long-term impact of criminal records on people’s lives.

Young people and adults who have committed offences should not be damaged throughout their lives by a criminal record. Having accepted responsibility for their actions, they should be allowed to fulfil their potential and play a full and productive part in society. It’s a social and economic tragedy that we spend billions each year on criminal justice but then prevent people who turn their lives around from working and paying taxes.

Wipetheslateclean is a non-political campaign that works collaboratively with organisations and people to shape practice and challenge the law in this area.

These are our campaigns

NIACRO call to make youth offending Off The Record

NIACRO, which works to reduce crime and its impact on people and communities, launched the ‘Off The Record’ campaign in The MAC on Wednesday with a short film featuring a range of high profile campaign supporters, including Falklands War veteran and charity activist Simon Weston and criminal records campaigner Bob Ashford – both of whom had to stand down as candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner roles due to convictions they had received as children.

‘Off The Record’ proposes that anyone should have the opportunity to apply to a multi-agency panel to have old and minor offences removed from their criminal or police record. The one condition would be that the offences must have occurred before the individual was 18 years old. The policy is based on a recommendation made in the 2011 Review of the Youth Justice System in Northern Ireland which has not yet been implemented.

Read the full article

Watch the Off the Record Video

Paying for Teenage Crimes 30 years on

Haunted by past: Why one Bristol man is still paying for teenage crimes 30 years on

“I ALMOST cried, someone as big and hairy as me almost crying, that’s how bad I felt at that moment,” Calvin said at his home in St George.

The 52-year-old is describing the moment he was dismissed from his post barely 10 minutes after starting the role.

His sin? Calvin had not disclosed on his application that he was a juvenile delinquent more than 30 years ago – a requisite under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 if you are taking a role which involves working with vulnerable people.

Read the full story

Wipetheslateclean welcomes Carlisle Report

Press Release



Campaign welcomes Peers and MP’s call to wipe the slate clean for young people’s criminal records

Bob Ashford founder of Wipetheslateclean today welcomed the publication of the Carlisle Report a review by a cross party group of MPs and members of the House of Lords which has recommended radical changes to the system of disclosure of criminal convictions by young people.


Bob Said:

“These disclosures (often of minor offences committed many years ago) can have a very negative on the employment and educational opportunities throughout young people’s lives when applying for jobs or educational opportunities. Many people are unaware that in accepting police cautions or receiving relatively minor convictions that these often have to be disclosed for the rest of people’s lives. When young people have made a positive decision to stop offending we should do all we can to rehabilitate them. A criminal record should not be a life sentence. I am delighted the aims of the campaign to wipetheslateclean have been recognised. What is needed now is action by the government to implement the recommendations”


Bob himself formed the campaign to Wipe the Slate Clean when he found himself barred from becoming a Police and Crime Commissioner in Avon and Somerset because of two minor convictions he committed 48 years ago. His resignation became nation news and in forming the campaign he has been supported by national charities including NACRO, NIACRO, Unlock 2000,User Voice, Business in the Community and the AYM.


The Report recommends:

We recommend a further amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 to

extend the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) filtering rules108

 regarding cautions

and convictions given to under-18s.109

 We propose the following revisions for under

18s, which should be made by the Home Office within the forthcoming two years:

– The above-mentioned time periods for the filtering of cautions and convictions for

under 18s should be reduced;

– Multiple convictions received by 18s should be permissible for filtering, providing

a specified period of time has elapsed since the last conviction;

– Convictions resulting in a custodial sentence should be filtered if the sentence

was 6 months or less; and

– Robbery and burglary offences that do not result in a custodial sentence should

be able to be filtered.



In the light of this report Bob is also calling for the Government to change the barring legislation for Police and Crime Commissioners to align itself with that of MP’s.

“It is ludicrous that I was and still am barred from becoming a Police and Crime Commissioner because of two offences I committed 48 years ago as a 13 year old. I can be an MP,  the Prime Minister but not a PCC. The barring legislation is recognised by all as a grave error and the government needs to change the legislation before the next election.”


Unlock gives update on DBS certificate


Staunch Wipetheslateclean supporters, Unlock, have published a guide to new developments from the DBS. The guide is available on Unlock’s website.

This guide explains two recent developments to the services of the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS); the Update Service and the change to ‘One Certificate’. These started on the 17th June 2013. The Update Service is a new subscription service lets you keep your DBS certificate up-to-date so you can take it with you when you move jobs or roles. The employer can then carry out free, online, instant checks to see if any new information has come to light since the certificate’s issue – this is called a ‘status check’.

Nacro Signs up to Support Wipetheslateclean

Nacro, the crime reduction charity, is a proud supporter of the Wipe The Slate Clean campaign. Paul McDowell, Nacro’s chief executive said:

image001“Bob Ashford was forced to stand down from running as a Police Crime Commissioner due to a minor crime he committed at the age of 13. This crime would not prevent him from becoming Prime Minister or Home Secretary, so surely it cannot be right that it permanently bars him from becoming a PCC. Politicians of all parties should ensure that this legislation is amended in time for the next round of PCC elections.

_F2Q7617“The Nacro Resettlement Advice Service routinely experiences calls from work-ready people with convictions who are being denied access to education, training and employment due to minor mistakes that they have made in their past. We work hard to educate and support organisations to strike a balance between the need to protect vulnerable members of society and the need to ensure that those who have made mistakes in their past are given the opportunity to make amends, give something back to society and lead productive lives. This is why we are supporting the Wipe the Slate Clean campaign.”



DBS Filters Certain Old and Minor Cautions and Convictions – Statement

Here’s the statement on filtering from the Disclosure and Barring Service:

Disclosure & Barring Service – DBS filters certain old and minor cautions and convictions, reprimands and warnings from criminal record certificates

May 2013

From 29 May 2013, the DBS will be removing certain specified old and minor offences from criminal record certificates issued from this date. Changes to the legislation were introduced today (29 May 2013) to allow us to do this.

The filtering rules, together with the list of offences that will never be filtered, are available from DBS

In line with these changes we have amended Question e55 on our application for a criminal record check. To ensure the law is followed correctly, we need Registered Bodies to bring the following change to the applicants attention when completing the form:

Question e55 asks the applicant:

‘have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence or received a caution, reprimand or warning?’

Applicants should now ignore this question and instead treat this question as if they were being asked:

‘do you have any unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings?’

Thank you for working with us to implement this change.

Best wishes

Karen Leech
Head of Media, External Relations and Marketing

A Quiet Word About Cautions

Bob Ashford speaking at NIACRO event at Stormont.

Bob Ashford speaking at NIACRO event at Stormont.

Since I resigned as a Police and Crime Commissioner candidate and established Wipetheslateclean, I have been surprised by the number of people who have contacted me through the website. Many of these are individuals whose lives have been blighted by previous convictions -often committed many years ago like my own.

One very striking issue that has come through  is from people who have received police cautions. Many people do not realise that when they accept a police caution, that the cautions will then be disclosed on standard and enhanced CRB/DBS checks when they apply for jobs.

The caution can have the same impact as a criminal conviction and can lead to exclusion from employment and other paths such as fostering/adoption etc. In some cases, when individuals have been asked, at interview or on application forms, whether they have criminal convictions they have answered “no,” only for the disclosures to then come through listing cautions. Because of this job offers have been withdrawn.

quoteService men and women who have accepted an informal reprimand from their commanding officer rather than a court martial find themselves in the same position. Non-British nationals serving in our armed forces have also found their applications for citizenship blocked when leaving those forces.

The same issue comes through when people receive other out of court disposals such as Restorative Justice Interventions and Fixed Penalty Notices etc. Again, while these are not criminal convictions they will be included on CRB/DBS disclosures. There is a right of appeal for individuals against inclusion but the post bag indicates many of these fall on deaf ears.

Many police forces have clear procedures to be followed when delivering cautions and other out of court disposals but practice indicates these are not being adhered to. I am also convinced many police officers are unaware of the lifetime implications of cautions when they deliver them. It’s unfortunate but understandable that when people are arrested and offered the opportunity to get out of the police station they opt for a caution without realising the full implications:

“I was told that if I accepted a caution it would all be over- I could leave and the thing would all be forgotten about. I had no idea when I applied for my next job that this would be with me for the rest of my life”

The government’s changes to the ROA are welcome but as an earlier article from UNLOCK  points out they do not go far enough. Coupled with this is the potential rise in the number of out of court disposals such as conditional cautions, following the introduction of the Legal Aid and Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), all of which I support. The result though, unless there are changes to the system of delivery of these disposals, will be far more people, who find themselves with life sentences for minor misdemeanours. This will particularly affect those who have received more than one such disposal.

That’s why Wipetheslateclean is calling for:

  • The Home Office and ACPO to review the delivery of all out of court disposals and ensure both recipients and police officers are fully aware of the impact of such disposals.
  • The Ministry of Defence to carry out a similar review across the armed forces.
  • For defence solicitors, appropriate adults and parents of young people to be made aware of the full implications of cautions and advocate more strongly for young people and adults at the point of arrest.

Bob Ashford