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Limit the time Cautions & Minor Offences remain on an individual’s Criminal Record

Comment 1st July 2010

A reasonable limit should be put on the amount of time Cautions or Warnings remain on a persons criminal record. Once this time has expired, given that the person has not committed any more offences, then their police profile or Criminal Record should be cleared of items that represent minor offences.

Cautions are routinely given out, quite often for actions that have not caused any harm to society and for actions that were not serious enough to warrant any form of judicial prosecution. With this in mind it seems unbalanced that the person will go on to suffer a lifetime of stigma and restricted opportunities from employment. This is particularly relevant to the blanket use of CRB checks in the modern recruitment process.

The current system of holding such information for life (as introduced by John Major's Tory government) goes against principles of rehabilitation and is leading to the exclusion of an increasing number of people from social & economic activity.

Why does this matter?

This is important as CRB checks are increasingly used by companies/organisations in the recruitment process and given the huge role they play in modern life they need to be representative of the image they portray.

It was estimated by a report in the Guardian newspaper that up to 1 in 4 people have some form of Criminal Record which is a huge barrier for people seeking employment.

Whilst it is important that there are systems in place to ensure organisations and the public can obtain information to protect themselves and users of their services it is also important that the information is a balanced reflection of the individual in question.

By labelling someone as a criminal over a petty incident that occured, say, 15 years ago and restricting them from employment when they pose no more threat than any other human being encourages prejudice and exclusion at a time when quite the opposite is neccesary.

 

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