Ex-offenders who have served longer sentences may not have to declare their past convictions to employers under new government proposals.
The new legislation would mean ex-offenders who have served sentences longer than four years would no longer be required to disclose their convictions to an employer after they have passed a ‘rehabilitation period’ without re-offending.
The legislation would also reduce the period of time for which ex-offenders will have to disclose shorter or community sentences, with the duration of these rehabilitation periods to be decided by the Department of Justice alongside industry stakeholders.
Secretary of state for justice, David Gauke, who announced the plans over the weekend, said the changes would “help remove the stigma of convictions”.
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“The responsibility, structure and support provided by regular work is an essential component of effective rehabilitation, something which benefits us all by reducing reoffending and cutting the cost of crime,” said Gauke.
“That’s why we are introducing reforms to break barriers faced by ex-offenders who genuinely want to turn their lives around through employment.”
The proposed changes would also scrap rules that mean certain ex-offenders need to disclose offences committed in childhood. Currently, when an offender is given a sentence of more than four years, they are then required to disclose to their employer offences committed as a child, even after they have served the sentence.
The government has said these changes would not apply to sensitive roles – such as when working with vulnerable adults or in national security positions – or to the most serious of sentences, including for serious sexual, violent or terrorism offences or offenders who have been given life sentences.
“While these reforms will help remove the stigma of convictions, we will never compromise public safety,” added Gauke.
Earlier this year, the government said it would look into relaxing the rules around criminal disclosure requirements following a Supreme Court ruling that the current Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks were having a destructive effect on the lives of a number of former offenders.
In May, the government also relaxed day-release rules in a bid to create more opportunities for offenders to train with employers while serving their sentence.