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

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