Wipetheslateclean responds to the Justice Select Committee Report on Disclosure of Youth Criminal Records
Wipetheslateclean welcomes the Justice Select Committee Report and recommendations on the Disclosure of Youth Criminal Records which it contributed to.
The Report rightly concludes that the current system for disclosure of youth criminal records undermines the principles of the youth justice system and argues that the system may well fall short of the UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also rightly recognises the impact that the current system of filtering and disclosure has on young people’s future access to employment, education, housing, insurance, visas for travel, and the discriminatory impact on BAME children and those within the care system. These are real issues that Wipetheslateclean recognises through the large number of contacts it has had from people whose lives and future career and family lives have been blighted by minor offences they committed as young people which have followed them throughout their adult lives.
The Report also recognises the work of Wipetheslateclean :
Bob Ashford from Wipetheslateclean explained the impact of having acquired two minor convictions as a 13 year old. Although he was able to progress his career in social work and youth justice, advancing to a senior level, when he stood for election as a Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset he discovered that he would be barred from holding office because of having multiple convictions for “imprisonable” offences. After resigning his candidacy he received extensive and largely supportive media coverage of his situation. As a result he was contacted by many others facing difficulties because of historic criminal records, which led to him setting up Wipetheslateclean.
The Justice Committee recommends:
- Lord Ramsbotham’s Criminal Records Bill to reduce rehabilitation periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 should be enacted;
- An urgent review of the filtering regime, to consider removing the rule preventing the filtering of multiple convictions; introducing lists of non-filterable offences customised for particular areas of employment, together with a threshold rest for disclosure based on disposal/ sentence, and reducing qualifying periods for the filtering of childhood convictions and cautions;
- Considering the feasibility of extending this new approach, possibly with modifications, to the disclosure of offences committed by young adults up to the age of 25;
- Allow chief police officers additional discretion to withhold disclosure, taking into account age and the circumstances of the offences, with a rebuttable presumption against disclosure of offences committed during childhood;
- Giving individuals the right to apply for a review by the Independent Monitor of police decisions to disclose convictions of cautions.
Bob Ashford the founder of Wipetheslateclean said:
“I welcome the Report and its findings which represent a major step forward in recognising the unjust and impenetrable current systems to record and disclose youth crime offences and the long term impact of those offences. The minor offences I committed over 50 years still have to be disclosed. Thankfully I have managed to overcome the obstacles they created, many people have not. Wipetheslateclean has always advocated that a criminal record should not be a life sentence and it’s in everyone’s interests to accept and take forward these recommendations. Wipetheslateclean will be working with other partners to ensure that happens.”