🎧 Podcast: Are criminal records fair?

The reality of living with a criminal record

More than 12 million people in the UK have a criminal record, mostly for minor offences committed long ago. Even offences committed in childhood can show up on criminal record checks decades later.

A criminal record can prevent someone following certain career paths, traveling, or even getting a fair price on insurance.

The impact can be lifelong, even when someone has completely turned their life around.

Are criminal records fair?

Our criminal justice system rightly punishes wrongdoing. But a criminal record can act as double punishment for someone who has already paid their debt to society.

Many people with a criminal record have never been to prison, yet their lives are blighted because a minor offence prevents them accessing employment or promotion opportunities. Criminal record checks can even stop people from volunteering, such as helping with the Covid-19 vaccination effort.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means that some offences stop appearing on a criminal record check after a certain number of years. But there are many jobs which require more detailed checks, which can show one-off offences from 20, 30, or even 50 years ago.

Because of stigma and discrimination, this effectively blocks thousands of people from finding work and contributing to society.

"I did the stupidest thing, when I committed a crime when I went off the rails in a personal crisis. I’m not making excuses -but I’ve done my time and I’m still being punished 18 years on. The criminal records system is farcical and unfair. It doesn’t help people not to commit crime and I’ve had 11 years on benefits because of it. I know it’s important to keep society safe but people need to have a fair chance to change and rehabilitate. The records system needs to change."

What needs to change?

FairChecks is calling for all political parties to support a review of the criminal records system, with the aim of making it fairer and more proportionate. If nothing changes, people who’ve worked hard to turn their lives around will continue to be punished for decades. This isn’t justice.

Click below for ways you can help, and share our website with others who believe that people should be allowed to move on.

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