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Expunge the past criminal records for youthful misdemenours.

Comment 5th August 2010

Criminal records are held on people whose offending stopped when they were still young. Many have committed no offences for 30-40-50 years, but an unforgiving state never forgets and never allows them to forget either.

Many were given Borstal, Detention Centre and even prison, for offences which would never attract a custodial sentence today. In fact there are youths today who have committed far, far more serious crimes than these youths of yesteryear and yet they have no criminal record.

Many of these people have gone on to become very industrious and successful, yet, they dare not apply to be school governors, or stand for election on the local council because their past will be dragged up and they have spent years trying to live it down. Can they become an MP for one of the major parties?

Not a chance, yet their "criminal records" are in many cases almost laughable in the realm of crime.

It isn't fair and the problem should be addressed.

Clearly some offences could not be expunged from the record….sexual crimes, offences of violence, carrying firearms and so on. In such cases there is a real reason to keep the record. But do stealing a bike, breaking a window, driving without a licence or throwing stones at aeroplanes really warrant the resources and facilities used to keep them.

Keep it if it is relevant and dump it if it isn't. Make sure that the threshold for relevant is set fairly high. Make the decision on the crime committed, not the sentence received, which are more and more severe the longer ago it happened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why does this matter?

It rewards those who have rehabilitated and saves the cost of keeping the record.

Many of the records kept are a complete irrelevance and probitive of nothing…..So why are they kept?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act has been around since 1975, yet when it boils down to it, it is little better than useless with no real teeth.

My idea would give minor offenders a reason to go straight and would reward those who, whilst starting off a little dodgy, are in reality no more of a criminal today than the Lord Chief Justice himself.

Such a measure would say much about the civil liberties program of the coalition governemnt and would be a compassionate measure.

 

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