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

Disclosure Rules The Justice Committee Calls for Evidence

convictions blight2

Following work by the Standing Committee of Youth Justice (SCYJ), of which Wipetheslateclean is a member, the Justice Committee has launched a short inquiry into the system governing the disclosure of criminal records in relation to offences committed by people when under 18 years old.

The Committee is now calling for evidence to be submitted and welcomes written submissions on:

  • The appropriateness and effectiveness of the statutory framework applying to the disclosure to employers and others of criminal records relating to offences committed by people when under 18 years old
  • whether that framework and the way in which it is operated in practice strike an appropriate balance between protection of employers and the public, on the one hand, and the rehabilitation of people committing offences when young, on the other hand
  • the effects in respect of the disclosure of such records of changes made in 2013 to the filtering of offences from criminal records checks and in 2014 to rehabilitation periods.


This is excellent news and provides the opportunity for individuals and organisations who feel they have been impacted by Disclosure rules to tell their story. The deadline for submissions is Friday 11 November 2016.



Well-deserved Gold for NIACRO Criminal Records Campaign at PR Awards

NIACRO was recently recognised for its high standard of public affairs campaigning when the organisation won a top award at the Northern Ireland-wide public relations awards.

The voluntary organisation, which works to reduce crime and its impact on people and communities, received the Gold award in the Best Public Affairs Campaign category for its campaign on youth criminal records, ‘Off The Record’, at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Awards on Friday. The successful campaign aimed to gain political and public support for people to have the opportunity to apply to have old and minor offences from childhood removed from their criminal records. As well as attracting substantial media coverage and positive feedback from the public, it significantly influenced the introduction of a criminal records review mechanism, due to take effect next year.

Olwen Lyner, Chief Executive of NIACRO, said:

“We’re delighted to win this award for the Best Public Affairs Campaign in Northern Ireland. A lot of hard work went into formulating a robust policy proposal that we know will benefit so many people and support them to move on from old and minor convictions received in childhood. Having a criminal record, even if it relates to childhood offending, can be a real barrier to accessing education, employment and training throughout life and can actually increase the risk of reoffending; this campaign sent the message that a criminal record shouldn’t be a life sentence.

“We want to say thank you to all those who supported the implementation of this campaign, including our colleagues across the criminal justice and voluntary sectors, and particularly to Bob Ashford, Simon Weston OBE and Dan Gordon who gave both their time and their voices to help raise awareness of this important message.

“Thanks also to the Henderson Group, which provided sponsorship for a group of NIACRO staff to attend the Awards ceremony.”

The CIPR PRide Awards are the most credible UK-wide awards in the public relations industry. They recognise and celebrate outstanding campaigns, PR professionals and teams across nine UK nations and regions. NIACRO came top in the Best Public Affairs Campaign category at the awards ceremony in the Culloden Estate and Spa on Friday, seeing off competition from Cancer Focus NI and the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations.

Commenting on why the NIACRO campaign won the award, the CIPR said: “Public affairs was used to its full advantage within this integrated communications campaign to influence and change policy with almost instant results against objectives. Despite an early commitment to review legislation, the campaign continued to be rolled out, helping to strengthen the communications messages, increase campaign visibility and raise awareness of the issue among a wider public audience. This helped to build support and pressure for an important policy change and secure a clear outcome with significant wider campaign benefits.”

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

Simon Weston and Bob Ashford working together

Simon Weston and Bob Ashford at Niacro conference

Simon Weston and Bob Ashford at Niacro conference

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.”


Bob Ashford’s article in “The Magistrate” on the long-term impact of Police and Armed forces cautions

MAgistrate – Winter 2013.

Bob Ashford Interview BBC Radio Ulster

Bob Ashford visited Belfast where he was interviewed by BBC Radio Ulster, Good Morning  about the Wipetheslateclean campaign. In the afternoon, he spoke at  NIACRO‘s AGM and answered questions from the audience. The radio  interview can be found here

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.”