News: Criminals: Should they be allowed to keep their record from employers?

News: Criminals: Should they be allowed to keep their record from employers?

Another Lincolnshire Highlights news story…

Justice secretary David Gauke wants to introduce new legislation lowering the amount of time a person with a criminal record has before they can stop disclosing past convictions to potential employers.

He hopes that by doing so it will aid criminal rehabilitation and remove some of the stigma associated with crime that prevents offenders from getting a job once out of prison, reports Perspecs.

However, should people who have spent years in prison get to avoid telling employers about their past or is that letting them off the hook?

The Claim

The Times takes the view that Gauke’s proposed reforms are a welcome introduction, seeing the current system as needlessly harsh.

They say there is a “compelling” case for overhauling the “outdated rules” on disclosing past convictions, citing research that says half of employers wouldn’t consider hiring an ex-offender.

If rehabilitation is the goal of the prison system then putting them into a position where fully half of employers won’t give them a chance seems counter productive. Reducing the time before offenders no longer have to disclose this information could greatly help their chances of getting a job.

Gauke argued it was “vital” that the government did all it could to support ex-offenders who were genuinely trying to make an honest go of it, saying that his new legislation would remove one of the biggest barriers towards criminal rehabilitation.

He believes getting former offenders into work will reduce their chances of reoffending, which will in turn help reduce crime and the cost to the public. It sounds like everybody wins.

The Counter Claim

Not everyone is happy with the justice secretary’s plans, with the Daily Telegraph reporting that the National Victims’ Association says the new legislation would be protecting offenders rather than the public.

Kevin Hogg of the NVA said the Ministry of Justice had delivered a “kick in the teeth” to victims of crime, arguing that they were “tilting the balance of justice” in favour of criminals.

The paper also questions why Gauke, who likely doesn’t have long left in his cabinet position, feels the need to change rehabilitation laws just five years after the coalition government overhauled it.

The last change in legislation reduced the rehabilitation times of sentences of up to six months, Gauke’s proposals would cover ones that lasted longer than four years, an unprecedented step in the British justice system. 

They suggest sentences of four years or more are serious enough that employers have a right to know if they are hiring someone who has received one. That’s the way it currently is and the way they want it to stay.

The Facts

The justice secretary’s plans cover sentences of four years or more, so some would be able to be “spent”. 

That is to say the time period where offenders have to notify employers of having served a sentence would eventually end. The rehabilitation period begins once the sentence is completed and is determined by the length of the sentence.

Sentences of six months or less are spent after two years, while sentences between six months and 30 months are spent after four years and those that are between 30 months and four years are spent after seven years. 

Under current laws convictions of four years or more are never spent and it is this that Gauke is trying to change. He would also like to reduce the time period on shorter sentences.

The changes would mean people convicted for some sexual offences, violent crimes and even manslaughter could eventually reach a point where they no longer have to disclose it to employers. 

Jobs where the person would be working with children or vulnerable adults would be subject to stricter rules.

People who have served a life sentence or committed more serious offences will still not have their conviction spent after a period of time. In particular more serious sexual, violent or terrorism-related offences will never be spent.

Perspecs is a free app that curates the top news stories from a variety of established regional, national and international news sources. Unlike traditional aggregators and news curation services, Perspecs goes a step further and offers readers 3 polarised opinions of the same story.

How these opinions are categorised can vary. For political stories this could be in the form of ‘left’, ‘background’, ‘right’. For review items the categories could be ‘negative’, ‘neutral’, ‘positive’.

Readers often stick to their regular sources of news therefore often only ever seeing one side of a story. Perspecs will give you the opportunity to see things from a different perspective and allow you to form your own informed opinion.

Perspecs will publish 1 edition per day and each edition will be packed with a variety of interesting and sometimes controversial topics. Most importantly, there will be 3 sides to every story.

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Around 38,000 prisoners are currently serving sentences of four years or more in the UK, this is about 46 per cent of the UK’s overall prison population.

For many people who have been in prison it is difficult to get a job. Half of employers say they would not hire an ex-offender while only 17 per cent of offenders are in work a year after their release.

The proven adult reoffending rate in the UK is 29.6 per cent, for juvenile criminals it is 43.1 per cent. Reoffending adults commit on average 3.83 more crimes after their first offence, while juveniles commit 3.89 reoffences. 

While it is Gauke who has proposed the changes it will almost certainly be the job of another justice secretary to carry them out. The MP has already said he wouldn’t work in the cabinet if Boris Johnson was prime minister so he likely has about a week left in government.



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