Sajid Javid said the government needs to review how much is revealed about people who have committed certain crimes when they apply for jobs.
Under current rules anyone with more than one conviction automatically has the details shared with potential employers, no matter how much time has passed since the offence. The Ministry of Justice and the Home Office have been in discussions about a potential change, following a Supreme Court ruling in favour of three people who said that the rules had had a damaging effect on their lives.
“One thing I am looking at, to give you one example, is the disclosure service, youth criminality disclosure, and whether we can look again at the approach that is sometimes taken there,” said Javid.
“So, for example, if a young person today has committed two offences, no matter what they are, so could be twice they shoplifted when they were 11 and 12 or something, that record can linger for years and years when they are an adult. They may find they are never getting a proper chance to turn around. I think we need to be sensible and look again at issues like this.”
Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlocked, a charity that supports people with convictions, said that the government must act on the proposals.
"Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that two aspects of the filtering scheme are disproportionate and in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, we urge the government to pass a remedial order as soon as is practical to ensure that all youth cautions, reprimands and warnings are now filtered out, and that the multiple conviction rule is removed,” he said.
Stacey added that for this to be fully effective there is a need to examine the way criminal records are disclosed on a larger scale: "Reviews by the Law Commission, Justice Select Committee, Charlie Taylor and David Lammy MP have all concluded that there is a need to look at the wider criminal records disclosure regime, which is not fair, proportionate or effective.
“We are calling on the government to conduct a fundamental review, reforming how it applies to childhood criminal records, records acquired in early adulthood and those received later in life. This will give thousands of people every year a fairer chance when applying for work or volunteering without the stigma and shame of having to disclose mistakes that they might have made years – sometimes decades – earlier."
Stacey told HR magazine that it is important to note that there is already a system in place for employers to discount certain offences: “This happens already to some extent, there is already a filtering mechanism in place, so this is not entirely new.
“But the Supreme Court ruling showed that the rules were arbitrary and too restrictive, and that's why its important that the government looks at this with a matter of urgency."