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.”

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

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

Wipetheslateclean, Press Release: Law Lords Agree – A Criminal Conviction Should Not Be a Life Sentence

The Court of Appeal  gave its verdict on Friday 25th January: the system which requires automatic disclosure of all convictions and cautions when applying for certain jobs, regardless of how long ago, how minor or their relevance to the job being applied for is incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act- the right to a private and family life.

The ‘T’ case, in which Liberty intervened, concerned a 21 year old man who received warnings from Manchester Police when he was 11 years old in connection with two stolen bikes. This information was disclosed on two occasions: when he applied for a part-time job at a local football club at the age of 17 and later when he applied for a University course in sports studies.

A hearing took place at the Court of Appeal today to consider the Government’s concerns. In the course of the hearing the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said that the Government should “pull its finger out” to reform the CRB system, having known about the problems of a blanket system for some time. The Court said it hoped to hand down the judgment next week.

This will have major implications for the whole system of Criminal Record Bureau (now the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks managed through the Home Office. Future changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act were proposed in the Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders Act (LASPO) but this proposes even stronger action.

Bob Ashford, who founded Wipetheslateclean as a result of being forced to step down as the Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for Avon and Somerset because of childhood offences committed when he was 13 years old, 46 years ago welcomed the move:

“The whole system of criminal records checks is unfair, uncoordinated and far too complex. Why should people with criminal convictions receive a life sentence when it comes to seeking employment and being full members of society? This is a  positive and major step forward and a step on the way to a true rehabilitation revolution.”

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

Interview in Guardian

Guardian interview with Bob Ashford.

Bob Ashford: people with criminal records should be given a fair chance.

The would-be crime commissioner, forced to step down over a teenage conviction, wants the slate wiped clean