17-year-old Scott deserves a life, not a life sentence.
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When Scott was 15, he set fire to a toilet roll in the school toilets as a prank. The police were familiar with his school due to previous incidents involving other students, and charged him with a crime rather than letting him off with a warning. The judge decided to make an example of him in an attempt to deter similar pranks in the future, and he was convicted of arson.
Now, he’s preparing to leave school and is thinking about what career he’d like to pursue in the future. He had been thinking about working with adults with learning disabilities, like his older brother, but his conviction will show up as arson, which sounds very serious, on the detailed criminal record checks required for this kind of work. Many employers won’t give him the chance to explain what really happened.
In many countries, Scott’s conviction would stop being revealed to employers once he turned 18, but that’s not the case in the UK. Now his first criteria when deciding his future is whether an employer will ask about his teenage mishap, and he plans to avoid any profession where this is likely out of embarrassment.
People shouldn’t face a lifetime of barriers when they’ve already been punished.
FairChecks is asking the government and all political parties to support a review of the criminal records system so that old and minor mistakes do not continue to haunt people’s lives forever.
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