Disclosure Rules The Justice Committee Calls for Evidence

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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.”

Simon Weston and Bob Ashford working together

Simon Weston and Bob Ashford at Niacro conference

Simon Weston and Bob Ashford at Niacro conference

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

Disclosure & Barring Service – Filtering of old and minor convictions and cautions

The following statement is from the Disclosure and Barring Service regarding the proposed arrangements for the filtering of old and minor convictions and cautions. Please note that the changes have not yet been ratified by parliament.

Disclosure & Barring Service – Filtering of old and minor convictions and cautions

March 2013

Today, the Home Office has started the legislative process (subject to agreement by Parliament) so that certain old and minor cautions and convictions will no longer be disclosed on a DBS certificate.

This action is in response to the Court of Appeal judgment in January this year which stated that the disclosure of all cautions and convictions on a DBS Certificate was incompatible with Article 8 of the Convention for Human Rights.

Since the judgment, we have been working very closely with the Home Office to develop a set of filtering rules that would remove certain old and minor convictions and cautions from a DBS certificate. The filtering rules which are now before parliament for consideration are:

An adult conviction will be removed from a criminal record certificate if:

(i) 11 years have elapsed since the date of conviction
(ii) it is the person’s only offence and
(iii) it did not result in a custodial sentence.

Even then, it will only be removed if it does not appear on the list of specified offences. If a person has more than one offence, then details of all their convictions will always be included.

An adult caution will be removed after 6 years have elapsed since the date of the caution – and if it does not appear on the list of specified offences.

For those under 18 at the time of the offence:

A conviction received as a young person would become eligible for filtering after 5.5 years – unless it is on the list of specified offences, a custodial sentence was received or the individual has more than one conviction.

A caution administered to a young person will not be disclosed if 2 years have elapsed since the date of issue – but only if it does not appear on the list of specified offences.

The changes will not come into force until after the legislation has completed its passage through Parliament. Until then, it’s business as usual.

We will keep you informed of this process and provide more information to you as soon as it is available.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Press Release: Wipetheslateclean welcomes Home Office decision to erase minor offences from records

Wipetheslateclean welcomes Home Office decision to erase minor offences from records

Bob Ashford, the founder of Wipetheslateclean, today welcomed the news that the Home Office are to introduce changes which will mean that old and minor offences will be filtered out of the information revealed in job applications in England and Wales.

Under the proposed legislation, convictions resulting in a non-custodial sentence will be filtered from record checks after 11 years for adults and five and a half years for young offenders. Violent and sexual offences will continue to have to be disclosed.

The news follows a ruling by the Court of Appeal in January that the blanket disclosure of all offences was disproportionate and infringed on the right to privacy and was therefore contrary to the European Court of Human Rights legislation. Earlier this month the Justice Select Committee, a cross party government body, agreed with the Court of Appeal and called for the erasure of minor offences committed by children at 18.

Bob Ashford the founder of Wipetheslateclean said:

“We need to look at the details, but on the face of it this looks like a good step forward. It really does seem the Home Office and government have listened to the Law Lords, their own MPs and the many campaigning individuals and organisations who have been calling for these changes. Why should a criminal record be a sentence for life? We need to recognise that people can change and  have the potential to lead productive lives, unfettered by old criminal records.

At the same time there also needs to be changes to the cautioning system. I have been inundated by emails from people who have accepted cautions from the police without understanding these are criminal convictions. We need to introduce a system so that both the police and people receiving them understand that they are criminal convictions and as such have long term implications.”

Notes to Editors

1. Wipetheslateclean www.wipetheslateclean.org.uk @WipeSlateClean has two aims: Changing the barring legislation relating to Police and Crime Commissioners and secondly to raise the wider debate about how we treat people with criminal convictions. Case studies and more information can be found on the website.

2. Wipetheslateclean main supporters include Unlock; User Voice, The National Association of Youth Justice (NAYJ) as well as many other organisations and individuals

3. Bob, who lives in Frome Somerset has spent a lifetime career working with young people in trouble and in need, working as a social worker before becoming one of the first Youth Offending Team Managers. From here he moved to the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, an organisation he worked for over 10 years, leaving as Director of Strategy in March last year. He has spoken at numerous national and international conferences and advised countries as diverse as Canada and Bulgaria on their justice systems.

4. Bob can be contacted  on  ashforb@googlemail.com

 

 

Minor Youth Convictions Must Go At 18 : House of Commons Justice Committee tells Government

 

Press Release 14/03/13

The All Party Justice Select Committee has just published its wide-ranging report into the youth justice system. This is based on evidence from a number of individuals and organisations, including some young people with direct experience of the system supported by the charity User Voice.The Select Committee has made a number of hard-hitting recommendations to Government on significant improvements that need to take place.

One such area is that of criminal convictions committed by young people. In a recommendation directly echoing the campaign message of Wipetheslateclean the committee recommends that:

“The government considers legislating to erase out of court disposals and convictions from the records of very early minor and non-persistent offenders at the age of 18, so that they cannot be disclosed to employers under the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.”

Bob Ashford, founder of Wipetheslateclean welcomed the news. “I have campaigned strongly for a change in the law regarding the disclosure of offences committed as young people. Every day I receive emails from adults whose career choices and lives have been blocked by minor offences committed many years ago. Why should offences committed as children become a sentence for life? This recommendation by the Select Committee shows that this voice is being heard. I now call on the Government to bring about these changes as soon as possible and end the blight on so many young peoples and adult lives.”

Bob Ashford was forced to resign as the Labour Party’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Avon and Somerset because of offences he committed as a 13 year old, 46 years ago.

Notes to Editors

1. Wipetheslateclean www.wipetheslateclean.org.uk @WipeSlateClean has two aims: Changing the barring legislation relating to Police and Crime Commissioners and secondly to raise the wider debate about how we treat people with criminal convictions. Case studies and more information can be found on the website.

2. Wipetheslateclean main supporters include Unlock; User Voice, The National Association of Youth Justice (NAYJ) as well as many other organisations and individuals

3. Bob, who lives in Frome Somerset has spent a lifetime career working with young people in trouble. He worked as a social worker before becoming one of the first Youth Offending Team Managers. From here he moved to the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, an organisation he worked for over 10 years, leaving as Director of Strategy in March last year. He has spoken at numerous national and international conferences and advised countries as diverse as Canada and Bulgaria on their justice systems.

4. Bob can be contacted on ashforb@googlemail.com

Cordelle Cabey: Reoffender to Rising Star

What happens when we give young people a chance. From reoffender to rising star and why he supports wipe the slate clean. Neil Puffett talks to Cordelle Cabey, national youth co-ordinator at User Voice.

 

Rehabilitation Revolution? I don’t think so. Government sticks by its PCC barring legislation

 

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The letter above is from the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green. It is in response to the letter I sent to him on 4th October last year, following my resignation as the PCC for Avon and Somerset. I didn’t even receive an acknowledgement of the letter or any other communication until the Guardian featured the campaign in a full page spread on the 4th December. A short email then arrived from the Home Office on 6th December stating:

“A ministerial response is due shortly to your letter. Many apologies for the delay in replying.”

The response has therefore taken almost 3 months to arrive and quite frankly doesn’t answer the points in my letter. I asked the Minister two questions:

What action your government intends to take to :

• Reforming the legislation relating to the bar on PCCs and criminal convictions and;

• Taking a wider and proactive approach to the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

On the first question the answer appears to be nothing. And this is despite the universal condemnation of the barring legislation, which conflates “seriousness” with “imprisonable offences”, and which led me and other well-qualified people to resign as PCC candidates for minor offences committed many years ago.

On the second question the response is wholly tied up with “Payment by Results”, a policy being rolled out nationally despite research on pilot schemes not yet being available. The response completely misses the many other available options which have been well tried and tested in the past and really could bring about a “rehabilitation revolution”.

The sentence I have most issue with is:

“I can understand how disappointing it must be to have to resign from the PCC candidacy however the Government feels that the nature of this role requires the highest standards of character- similar to that which a police officer would be held”

The implication is crystal clear. Despite a lifetime career in social care and criminal justice and being successfully vetted by the Home Office to work on security sensitive issues, my character is flawed and forever defined by two offences I committed when I was 13 years old, 46 years ago. The statement is also incorrect, for many serving police officers at every level have been convicted of imprisonable offences. In advertising recent Police and Complaints Commissioners, who will oversee complaints against the police and PCCs, the Home Office requires a lower level of barring than that of PCCs and therefore in their own words they would allow people without “the highest standards of character “ to judge the actions of the police and Police and Crime Commissioners.

I am hugely disappointed by this response on a personal level, but also once more for the message it sends to those who have found themselves in trouble with the law, no matter how long ago and how minor their offences. It underlines the wasted opportunity to truly bring about a “rehabilitation revolution” which would be of benefit to victims of crime, local communities, and taxpayers alike by recognising that people who have offended (who make up 30% of the adult male population) have worth and should be encouraged and helped to reintegrate into society, not punished for the rest of their lives.

I will be responding to the Minister. I also sent a copy of the letter to the Home Secretary, Theresa May on 4th October : I have yet to receive a reply.

 

 

 

 

Wipetheslateclean: a non-political campaign

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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