David Lammy MP, has proposed that criminal records should be sealed from employers as part of a series of recommendations made in a review of the treatment of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in the criminal justice system.
‘Sealing’ a criminal record involves an ex-offender having their case heard by a judge or an independent body, where they could prove they have reformed. A judgement would then be made to determine if the criminal record should be ‘sealed’. David Lammy MP, states the UK should learn from the USA’s system as they consider factors such as the evidence of rehabilitation and how long ago the offence took place.
The current system is trapping offenders in their past. It is locking them out of the labour market and is an irrelevant anchor to those who have changed. It would also help to benefit society due to the considerable amount paid to those who receive money through out-of-work-benefits. A job is something that can reform them.
However, the criminal record would still exist if the decision works in favour of the ex-offender and the employer wouldn’t have access to it and the ex-offender wouldn’t need to disclose it.
The proposal works in favour of those who committed crimes at a young age. This is so they can have a fresh start because they no longer pose a risk to society. Having a job reduces the chances of an individual of re-offending up to 50%. This would save society up to £15 billion a year.
Studies show that over half of employers wouldn’t consider hiring an ex-offender. If this proposal is implemented into the current system, it means employers need to assess candidates with convictions fairly. There could be potential legal concerns if the employer discriminates against an individual because of their past.
The ruling for this proposal hasn’t been confirmed or accepted yet as it is still new, however, it does mean for a majority of employers, they won’t be able to have access to the criminal records. Alternatively, there will be full disclosure for certain sectors, for example, schools, hospitals and nursing homes may have access to this information about the offender, because there is a justifiable legitimate business reason behind it. It is imaginable this will be recognised that there is an overriding need for disclosure in certain situations and also to protect these certain groups of people from those who have committed certain offences.
We will be keeping an eye on this proposal and advice accordingly. In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries, please contact a member of the HPC team for any help you may require.
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