Killers, sex offenders and drug dealers will have their criminal records wiped clean to help them find jobs, Justice Secretary says
- David Gauke believes the move would improve convicts chances of employment
- He argued ‘there are few better crime-fighting tools than a regular pay cheque’
- Proposals need primary legislation, which have been put on hold until new PM
- Mr Gauke previously called for sentences of six months or less to be scrapped
Killers, sex offenders 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.’
David Gauke (pictured), 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
Mr Gauke believes that reducing the length of time offences need to be disclosed would ‘improve people with convictions’ chances of accessing employment’ (pictured, a job centre)
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.
Current rules about disclosing criminal records
Sentence – disclosure period:
- Community order – length of order + one year
- Prison sentence less than six months – length of sentence + two years
- Prison sentence between six and 30 months – length of sentence + four years
- Prison sentence between 30 and 48 months – length of sentence + seven years
- Prison sentence over 48 months or a public protection sentence – never spent, must always disclose
There are some exceptions where you must disclose the conviction regardless of if it is spent, such as if you want to become a solicitor, accountant, doctor or take a school-based job.
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.
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.
David Gauke (pictured) has spent a large portion of his 18-month tenure trying to disprove former Tory leader Michael Howard’s claim that ‘prison works’
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.
Mr Gauke earlier this year also outlined plans to scrap prison sentences of less than six months (stock image)
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.
Gauke is expected to step down should Johnson win the contest.
Earlier this month he said he was ready to ‘resign in advance’ of Mr Johnson taking office after the front runner made clear that every one in his Cabinet will have to agree that leaving the EU without an agreement must remain an option.
Mr Gauke, along with a series of other senior ministers including David Lidington and Philip Hammond, have said they would be unable to serve in such a government raising the possibility of them being fired if the favourite beats Jeremy Hunt.
It came amid claims that Mr Gauke is leading a so-called ‘Gauke-ward squad’ of pro-EU Tory MPs who will fight to stop Mr Johnson taking Britain out of the bloc without a deal.