So, what’s changed?
Well, at the moment, nothing.
It’s important to note that the changes are only proposed at this stage and still need to be debated in Parliament. However, both the Supreme Court and Government have confirmed that they believe the current system is in need of change.
The key updates proposed relate to the ‘filtering’ system. Filtering is the word used to describe how certain convictions are not disclosed on a DBS certificate. Convictions are generally filtered when a certain period of time has passed. At this point a conviction becomes ‘Spent’.
The suggested changes would update the current filtering rules so that the following would not be automatically disclosed, on an Enhanced or Standard DBS certificate:
- Youth Convictions
- Reprimands and warnings
- Multiple convictions for minor offences (child or adult)
Why change things?
Charities like Unlock, highlight that in the past 5 years alone “over 1 million youth criminal records were disclosed on Standard or Enhanced criminal record checks that related to offences from more than 30 years’ ago”. In the majority of cases, the convictions have no relevance to the ex-offender as an adult.
Whilst the law states, you cannot discriminate against someone based upon their Spent or irrelevant convictions, unfortuantely it does happen. Changing the current filtering guidance would ensure that rehabilitated ex-offenders can continue a law-abiding life without hindrance.
Could this cause problems for employers?
Criminal record checks are there to protect the public by helping employers make safe recruitment decisions. You might be thinking, lessening restrictions could lead to people with convictions slipping through the cracks! This is an understandable concern of any hiring manager, but you needn’t worry.
Any convictions that are considered ‘serious’ in the eyes of the law are never filtered, and this would be the same in the new guidance. You can probably guess the type of offences: murder, terrorism, and anything relating to neglect or abuse of children, amongst others. All things that an employer should be aware of when making a recruitment decision.
Senior policy advisor as ther CIPD, Rachel Suff, has welcomed the changes as a way of ending “unfair discrimination against ex-offenders who need a change to genuinely rehabilitate in society”. Some of the cases highlighted in the Supreme Court proceedings were:
- A woman convicted of driving without a seatbelt, who was fined £10
- A homeless, un-diagnosed schizophrenic was convicted for the theft of a sandwich and a 99p book.
- A teenager who received a conditional discharge for assault, following a fight after school.
At the time of the court case, all three of these individuals had been without an offence for several years. In the eyes of the law, they are rehabilitated, but due to their records, believed they had been unfairly discriminated against.
The proposed legilsation amendments are due to be discussed later this year. It is clear that all parties involved, from the DBS, through the courts, to charity campaginers are working towards the same goal.
If these amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 are passed it will mean ex-offenders will:
- No longer have to disclose reprimands, final warning or cautions received under the age of 18 for applications to either Univeristy or regulated job roles (Also won’t show on a DBS certificate).
- Have mutiple childhood convictions filtered after 5.5 years if they are not serious offences and did not result in a custodial or suspended sentence.
- Have mutiple convictions, acquired after the age of 18, will be filtered after 11 years if they are not serious offences and did not result in a custodial or suspended sentence. Rule relating to Adult Cautions have not changed.
For more information on the proposed changes, check out the government announcement here!
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