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.”