Rapists to have their criminal records wiped
Sex offenders, murderers and drug dealers could have their criminal records wiped under new plans to stop them having to reveal their convictions to employers.
David Gauke, the justice secretary, wants a change in law so criminals will find it easier to get a job - claiming 'a regular pay cheque' will prevent them re-offending.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 those who receive a prison sentence of four or more years have to disclose their conviction to employers for the rest of their lives.
But Mr Gauke, 47, believes that reducing the length of time offences need to be disclosed would 'improve people with convictions’ chances of accessing employment.'
In a letter to ministers earlier this month, seen by The Times, Mr Gauke said he wanted to stop convicts having to disclose their record.
He said: 'This not only supports them to move on with their lives, it protects the public by decreasing their likelihood of reoffending, as there are few better crime-fighting tools than a regular pay cheque.
'And enabling sentences of over four years to become spent for the first time means those who have ceased offending will no longer have the stigma of a conviction hanging over their lives.'
The move would mean those who have served long sentences for crimes including manslaughter, violent assault and some sex offences would effectively have their criminal records wiped clean.
It has not yet been decided how long after someone jailed for more than four years would have their conviction 'spent'.
Current rules see people jailed for between two-and-a-half and four years disclose their conviction for the length of their sentence plus seven years.
Those found guilty of the most serious crimes however, which resulted in life sentences or 'indeterminate' sentences, would not be be subject to the change.
Their records would still have to be disclosed. As would those of former criminals applying for jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults.
Mr Gauke has spent a large portion of his 18-month tenure trying to disprove former Tory leader Michael Howard's claim that 'prison works'. He earlier this year also outlined plans to scrap prison sentences of less than six months.
He said there was a 'strong case' for looking at alternatives for less serious offences, such as community work.
This latest move, to permit the wiping of criminal records so former convicts can find it easier to get a job, is the latest in his plans to promote rehabilitation outside of prison.
Another of his plans included allowing female prisoners to have mobile phones and live with their children to maintain family ties and help stop them reoffending.
Phones would not connect to the internet and prisoners could only call a small group of approved numbers.
Convicts would have to pay for the calls, with service providers being encouraged to offer them special deals.
And in a bid to help women convicts prepare for life on the outside, they could be moved to a 'halfway house' - which would not have bars on the windows' - where they can live with their children.
His latest proposals will require primary legislation, but plans for a green paper on reform of sentencing have been put on hold until the next prime minster is announced.
Won't the criminals still have to explain the huge gaps in their employment record caused by imprisonments? I don't think they have thought their latest liberal fantasy through!