The Government’s sentencing white paper outlines plans to reform the criminal records system. While we warmly welcome these reforms, we believe we can and should go further for children, and are calling on the Government to conduct a wide ranging review of the system to ensure it is child-specific and better reflects the nature of childhood offending. We have submitted a response to the MoJ that sets out our position.
Our key points and recommendations include:
- We welcome the Statutory Instruments set to come into force on 28th November 2020 that will stop automatic disclosure on standard and enhanced DBS checks of childhood cautions, and of all convictions where a person has more than one conviction. These changes are long-awaited following the 2019 Supreme Court ruling that these elements of the system for children are disproportionate and unlawful.
- We welcome plans outlined in the white paper for reduced rehabilitation periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA). While these are a significant improvement, we believe the rehabilitation period brackets should be amended to align with the childhood sentencing regime. We also do not believe the exclusion of sexual, violent and terrorism offences from the introduction of rehabilitation periods for custodial sentences over four years should apply for children.
- The childhood criminal records system actively impedes efforts of the MoJ and YJB to encourage desistance, reduce racial disproportionality in the youth justice system, and tackle the exploitation of children. International comparisons highlight how punitive the system in England and Wales is for children. Tweaks to the current system will not go far enough: a wide-ranging review of the system is urgently needed.
- The Government should urgently amend the ‘relevant date’ for rehabilitation periods of children who turn 18 between committing an offence and conviction, so the corresponding date is when the offence was committed.
Read our full response here.