Criminals to be given clean slate in search for work

Former criminals aiming to turn their lives around will be backed by new legislation changing what they must disclose to future employers.
Former criminals aiming to turn their lives around will be backed by new legislation changing what they must disclose to future employers.
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Former criminals aiming to turn their lives around will be backed by new legislation changing what they must disclose to future employers.

For the first time, some sentences of over four years will no longer have to be disclosed to employers after a specified period of time has passed.

Research reveals that may ex-offenders find it impossible to get a job, with just 17 per cent in employment a year after release from prison, while half of all employers would not consider hiring an ex convict.

The Government states that regular work is a major factor in breaking repeat offending and have now introduced the new reforms.

In addition to the rule change for longer sentences over four years, the period of time for which shorter sentences and community sentences have to be revealed to employers will be scaled back. The exact length of these ‘rehabilitation periods’ will be determined following discussions with stakeholders.

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The changes will not apply where offences attract the most serious sentences, including life, or for serious sexual, violent and terrorism offences.

Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke, said: "The responsibility, structure and support provided by regular work is an essential component of effective rehabilitation, something which benefits us all by reducing reoffending and cutting the cost of crime.

"That’s why we are introducing reforms to break barriers faced by ex-offenders who genuinely want to turn their lives around through employment.

"While these reforms will help remove the stigma of convictions, we will never compromise public safety. That is why separate and more stringent rules will continue to apply for sensitive roles, including those which involve working with children and vulnerable adults."

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Currently, where a sentence of more than four years is passed, crimes committed decades earlier, including those committed as a child, must be disclosed to employers for the remainder of the offender’s life. For example, an individual sentenced to a lengthy sentence for theft half a century ago would still have to tell employers to this day.

Whitehall states that this creates a "disproportionate barrier" to employment which prevents ex-offenders from moving on with their lives.

In his review into the treatment of and outcomes for Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals in the criminal justice system, David Lammy MP said current rules are “trapping offenders in their past, denying dependants an income, and costing the tax-payer money.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The Government has acted in light of his recommendations, as well as those of the Justice Select Committee and of Charlie Taylor made following his review of youth justice. The reforms set out will be introduced as new legislation when parliamentary time becomes available.

"They will only apply to non-sensitive roles, with separate and stricter rules for those working with children or vulnerable adults, as well as national security roles or positions of public trust."