Thursday, June 19, 2014

Storm in a (Daily Mail) teacup

Certain news papers have certain agendas which come out obviously when you read them, they're either populist or in other cases designed to get the readerships blood boiling. The Daily Mail has a reputation of winding its readers up with stories about immigrants, criminals cocking a snook at the law, the dangers to children from porn etc. They're good at it too, but relentlessly authoritarian as the response is usually to ban or demand ever more laws.
Thieves, burglars and violent thugs will be free to work in schools, hospitals and care homes after a ruling by judges.
The Supreme Court said thousands of criminals should be allowed to wipe their record clean so they are not haunted forever by past offences.
The change means people will not be forced to disclose some convictions to prospective employers – because this breaches their human rights. Those affected by the ruling include people applying for certain kinds of jobs involving work with children or vulnerable adults.
Up to now, anyone wanting to work in these areas has had to disclose any previous convictions or cautions, which stayed on their records indefinitely. But a panel of five Supreme Court judges yesterday upheld a Court of Appeal judgement that blanket checks could breach a person’s right to a private or family life.
The Home Office challenged that judgement, saying it compromised the protection of children and vulnerable groups, but in the meantime introduced a system to filter out single minor convictions or cautions during an enhanced criminal records check.
Actually I'm with the Supreme Court on this one, caught nicking a bicycle age 11 shouldn't mean that you be denied a job working in a care home at age 25. Under the old rehabilitation of Offenders act, any crime which got you a prison sentence of less than ten years did not have to be declared after ten years had passed. It was presumed if you could stay out of trouble over ten years, you'd reformed. CRB checks, particularly the enhanced ones more or less told your past criminal history back to the year of your birth. Sure it kept the dangerous ones away from the vulnerable, though it couldn't prevent one off's or check on those who did a crime after being offered the job.
Some crimes are of course going to remain on the checks, the sex offenders register is not covered by this ruling. Crimes of violence in certain categories will also mean you remain on the register after ten years. Expunging a caution because of drunken folly after five years however will.
It means those who have reformed their lives after perhaps a stupid mistake will now be able to find work in expanded areas. Hopefully the ruling will still keep the dangerous ones out.
But lurid headlines sell papers and the Mail is convinced paedogeddon is on its way because a guy who stole a bicycle when 11 in 2002 is going to have his criminal record expunged.
The blanket CRB check one size fits all was never a good idea. Giving people a chance after time has passed is.

2 annotations:

Jim said...

You see I disagree. If I'm going to employ someone in a position of trust I want to know if they have proved untrustworthy in the past, however long ago it was. Lets say I want to employ a person in my shop, who will have responsibility for the cash in the till, and banking the money at the end of the day. I'd want to know if they've stolen from someone else, or betrayed an employers trust before, even if it was 10 years ago. Thats not that long a time really, and leopards don't often change their spots.

This is all just part of the 'progressive' attack on the responsible by removing from the irresponsible the consequences for their actions. Why be a decent member of society if misbehaving has no consequences? We reap what we sow - this will just mean criminals get an easy ride to take advantage of the weak and uninformed. Just because someone hasn't been convicted for 10 years doesn't mean they haven't done similar acts in the meantime, and not been caught.

Quiet_Man said...

Unfortunately Jim, only certain employers have access to CRB checks, shops not being one of them. I still believe there should be a moratorium on the length a crime remains on your record. Whilst I take your point on leopards and spots, some do change and I believe it to be fundamentally wrong to judge someone on mere suspicion simply because you believe they haven't been caught. People do change and a mistake made over 11 years ago should not haunt your life or wreck your future prospects particularly if it was a minor crime and/or you have lived a law abiding life since then. Some crimes are unforgivable, those should remain with you forever, but a lot arent and shouldn't.