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Is the ROA fair regarding previous convictions?


Is the ROA fair regarding previous convictions?

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AB2014
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jcdmcr - 4 Sep 20 10:10 AM
AB2014 - 3 Sep 20 9:28 AM
Simmo - 23 Jul 20 1:41 PM
Is the ROA fair? Should they introduce a system where minor convictions for offences such as thefts, criminal damage and others like that where you pose no risk to anyone, are excluded from even an Enhanced DBS check? Especially if they are from some time ago, thus giving rehabilitated offenders a better chance of securing employment and leading law abiding lives?

Well, actually, they're about to do just that, following that Supreme Court ruling in January 2019. It means minor offences can be filtered, however many you have, but you still have to wait 11 years, which is still harsh. The change also means youth cautions, reprimands and warnings for all offences will no longer be shown on enhanced DBS checks. However, whether the ROA is generally fair is another matter. Under any other government, I'd be cautiously hopeful that they might change it again, but not this one.

My experience is that they're selective.... I mean think about it - Look at films like king of thieves, transporter etc they glorify crime.... But you never certain crimes glorified?!?!?!?


As for insurance etc - My car insurance is crazy. My policy went from £400 to over £2000 for an images offence. I couldn't get home insurance....

As your conviction is for a non-motoring offence, you could always try the insurers on Unlock's list here for car insurance, as they only ask about motoring convictions. For other insurance, they have a list here that might be helpful.

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Grrr! Aaargh!

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punter99 - 4 Sep 20 11:29 AM
I use HomeProtect for home insurance. No issues with the premium, although the excess was high.
Car Insurance - Churchill and Privelige don't ask about anything except motor related convictions, so no need to declare your an images offence. My premium remained the same.

The mistake most people make is to go to a comparison website. They ask for all possible details up front as they search a range of companies, some of whom ask and some of whom don't, but because the question is there you have to answer it. 

It takes longer, but it's worth spending the extra effort if you are just looking for car insurance.
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jcdmcr - 4 Sep 20 10:10 AM
AB2014 - 3 Sep 20 9:28 AM
Simmo - 23 Jul 20 1:41 PM
Is the ROA fair? Should they introduce a system where minor convictions for offences such as thefts, criminal damage and others like that where you pose no risk to anyone, are excluded from even an Enhanced DBS check? Especially if they are from some time ago, thus giving rehabilitated offenders a better chance of securing employment and leading law abiding lives?

Well, actually, they're about to do just that, following that Supreme Court ruling in January 2019. It means minor offences can be filtered, however many you have, but you still have to wait 11 years, which is still harsh. The change also means youth cautions, reprimands and warnings for all offences will no longer be shown on enhanced DBS checks. However, whether the ROA is generally fair is another matter. Under any other government, I'd be cautiously hopeful that they might change it again, but not this one.

My experience is that they're selective.... I mean think about it - Look at films like king of thieves, transporter etc they glorify crime.... But you never certain crimes glorified?!?!?!?


As for insurance etc - My car insurance is crazy. My policy went from £400 to over £2000 for an images offence. I couldn't get home insurance....

I use HomeProtect for home insurance. No issues with the premium, although the excess was high.
Car Insurance - Churchill and Privelige don't ask about anything except motor related convictions, so no need to declare your an images offence. My premium remained the same.

J
J
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AB2014 - 3 Sep 20 9:28 AM
Simmo - 23 Jul 20 1:41 PM
Is the ROA fair? Should they introduce a system where minor convictions for offences such as thefts, criminal damage and others like that where you pose no risk to anyone, are excluded from even an Enhanced DBS check? Especially if they are from some time ago, thus giving rehabilitated offenders a better chance of securing employment and leading law abiding lives?

Well, actually, they're about to do just that, following that Supreme Court ruling in January 2019. It means minor offences can be filtered, however many you have, but you still have to wait 11 years, which is still harsh. The change also means youth cautions, reprimands and warnings for all offences will no longer be shown on enhanced DBS checks. However, whether the ROA is generally fair is another matter. Under any other government, I'd be cautiously hopeful that they might change it again, but not this one.

My experience is that they're selective.... I mean think about it - Look at films like king of thieves, transporter etc they glorify crime.... But you never certain crimes glorified?!?!?!?


As for insurance etc - My car insurance is crazy. My policy went from £400 to over £2000 for an images offence. I couldn't get home insurance....

James
AB2014
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Simmo - 23 Jul 20 1:41 PM
Is the ROA fair? Should they introduce a system where minor convictions for offences such as thefts, criminal damage and others like that where you pose no risk to anyone, are excluded from even an Enhanced DBS check? Especially if they are from some time ago, thus giving rehabilitated offenders a better chance of securing employment and leading law abiding lives?

Well, actually, they're about to do just that, following that Supreme Court ruling in January 2019. It means minor offences can be filtered, however many you have, but you still have to wait 11 years, which is still harsh. The change also means youth cautions, reprimands and warnings for all offences will no longer be shown on enhanced DBS checks. However, whether the ROA is generally fair is another matter. Under any other government, I'd be cautiously hopeful that they might change it again, but not this one.

=========================================================
Grrr! Aaargh!

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Teaspoon - 24 Jul 20 9:38 PM
As an addition to this: I think a far fairer system would be that employers can only ask about relevant convictions, when they can demonstrate that it is relevant to the the position. To be honest though, that's exactly why we have the DBS checks. So is it really necessary to ask about convictions, when the DBS checks cover the public protection element already?

Teaspoon

I agree, and the same for insurance etc. My offence of "Facebook trolling" adds hundreds of pounds onto insurance quotes.

I feel it is more important now than ever due to the massive competition for jobs, especially for university graduates (I was unfortunate to get my conviction shortly after graduating with an engineering degree). Companies already have all sorts of tests to narrow down candidates and having a blip on your record no matter how minor could be the reason they don't choose you.

I feel that the current system fails us socially as individuals and the economy/taxpayers when it makes it harder to pursue a career and contribute to the country. It can stop you from moving on which I'm sure increases the chances of reoffending and getting into a cycle. Personally it left a sour taste in my mouth and the thought of why should I bother? Had the community service sentence I received been my entire punishment without more knock-on effects then I would have came out at the other end with a much more positive attitude.
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As an addition to this: I think a far fairer system would be that employers can only ask about relevant convictions, when they can demonstrate that it is relevant to the the position. To be honest though, that's exactly why we have the DBS checks. So is it really necessary to ask about convictions, when the DBS checks cover the public protection element already?

Teaspoon
Edited
2 Months Ago by Teaspoon
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When if comes to employment policy of ex-offenders, only one factor should really matter: how does this impact on re-offending rates?

For this discussion, I am leaving out the DBS checks, as that is a separate system and debate. However, on the whole, having checks for relevant offences when applying for protected positions is understandable and defensible from a public protection position. I am not for one minute suggesting DBS checks are used correctly in the UK; they are not. But, as I said, that's a separate (though closely linked) debate. 

The UK and Ireland are unique in Europe, in that they place the onus for background checks on the employer. In every other European country, it is for the state to decide if an individual needs to be barred from working in certain positions. Usually, this is a separate system to the (equivalent of) DBS checks. For example, if the courts feel that an individual poses a risk when working in financial institutions, they will make an order that prevents them from working in such institutions. That is then entirely policed by the state. Outside of the courts, criminal records are treated as private and protected information. Employers cannot ask for information about criminal records by law, unless they have government authorisation to do so (security organisations etc.) The result is that ex-offenders have no more difficulty gaining employment than any other member of the public - there is no discrimination. 

In the UK and Ireland, it is the employers responsibility to decide whether an individual is a risk to the organisation in any way. If the employer becomes aware that the individual has a record when applying for a position, they will usually carry out a risk assessment. The risk assessment will always include a question that asks something like: 'Does the individual pose a risk to the reputation of this organisation?' This is a particular issue if the applicant is an RSO. The organisation has to consider if the public would react in a negative manner, were they to knowingly employ an RSO. The answer will nearly always be yes, so the application is rejected. This is not an issue in the rest of Europe, because the employer does not know that the applicant has a criminal record, so they do not need to consider 'risk to their reputation'. 

Now, it has been well established that one of the biggest factors in whether an ex-offender goes on to offend again is unemployment. So when a UK (or Irish) employer asks the question: 'Does the individual pose a risk to the reputation of this organisation?', we can flip that around and ask 'Would our reputation be enhanced by rejecting the applicant?' The perverse thing is, logic dictates that they believe their reputation is enhanced by rejecting the applicant. Even though that means the person is statistically more likely to commit another offence due to unemployment, and would be a drain on society through claiming benefits and not paying taxes. There would be even more of a cost to the tax-payer if that individual ends up with another (very expensive) prison sentence. Even though there is clearly no benefit at all to wider society when ex-offenders remain unemployed, this country seems hell-bent on making sure the situation remains the same. So I ask the first question again: how does this impact on re-offending rates? 

In the UK and Ireland: extremely low levels of ex-offender employment -  huge increase in re-offending rates - more crime - more victims - astronomically higher cost to the tax payer.
In the rest of Europe: Healthy levels of ex-offender employment - significantly lower levels (compared to UK and Ireland) of re-offending - less crime - less victims - cost-effective for the taxpayer (and more people paying tax to boot!)

Is the ROA fair? I'm not sure who the question is aimed at, but I can't think of anyone that the RoA is fair to, least of all, society. It's expensive and leads to more crime. Of course, many other aspects of the criminal justice system have been documented to cause more crime too. However, this seems to be ignored when making policy decisions. The only factor that seems important when making policy decisions is: 'does this get us more votes?' The cynic in me thinks that the public like seeing more punishment because certain (large) swathes of the media push it as a form of entertainment. So policy decisions that reduce this entertainment factor get less votes. In the mean time, the public seems completely unaware of the huge cost to them both financially and societally. I firmly believe that the RoA is one of  the many forms of societal self-harm that this country seems to revel in.   

Apologies if this turned into a bit of a rant; I get quite passionate about the subject. 

Teaspoon


Edited
2 Months Ago by Teaspoon
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Simmo - 23 Jul 20 1:41 PM
Is the ROA fair? Should they introduce a system where minor convictions for offences such as thefts, criminal damage and others like that where you pose no risk to anyone, are excluded from even an Enhanced DBS check? Especially if they are from some time ago, thus giving rehabilitated offenders a better chance of securing employment and leading law abiding lives?

Is the ROA fair?

Very subjective question!

My thoughts/opinion on the ROA in general (not specifically just on the offences you mention) are that it shouldn't exist at all in most cases.  The main reason for this is that once you have been through the justice system and have completed your sentence then in theory you are rehabilitated. Obviously this is not always the case but that is what the justice system is supposed to do - rehabilitate - the fact that in many cases it doesn't means that the justice system is not fit for purpose.

I don't know and haven't looked in to the history of why it came about however calling it the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is misleading - it should be called the "If you don't tell anyone then 'we' (the state) will tell Act".  The actual act is nothing to do with rehabilitation at all - it's about deciding that at a point in time (literally the difference of the second between 11.59.59pm one day and 00.00.00am the next day) x number of years after the fact you are now ok to apply for a job without your past mistakes showing on a basic criminal record check.

I think that the ROA is potentially useful if you have a closed criminal records system.  By closed I mean that where a company chooses to perform a criminal record check they submit the job description that is analysed and if a criminal record exists that is relevant to the job role applied for and if the ROA period hasn't passed then and only then is it disclosed. If a criminal record exists but either the ROA period has passed or the offence is not relevant to the job then the company would receive back a no criminal record response. As an example if you have a criminal record for shoplifting or drink driving and you are within the ROA period, you apply for a job developing software then there is absolutely zero reason why that company needs to know about your offence as it's not relevant to the job you're applying for. Yet what we have today is exactly that - the company would find out you had a criminal record for something not at all relevant to the role and because companies don't want the stigma/brand impact if someone finds out they have an 'ex-con' working for them they don't interview/hire those that have a record.

As I'm sure you've seen if you've been through the posts on this forum there are many many posts where job offers that get withdrawn the moment 'the box' is ticked yes or candidates that don't even get to interview stage because they tick yes to say they have a conviction and others where jobs are not applied for because that question is on the application form (or fear that it will be). I'm sure they are plenty of example where those with a criminal record apply for jobs and get them as well despite a check being done.  However 99 times out of 100 that conviction is not going to be relevant to the roles being applied for. In all cases the ex-offender has been through the system (whatever the punishment/disposal may have been) and in theory is rehabilitated. I realise that very system in many cases won't be fit for purpose (rehabilitation) however why do we allow those who are rehabilitated to be further punished by a law that claims to be (by it's title) about rehabilitation? Why not fix the broken system instead?

How many law abiding people are out there that due to their convictions/past mistakes :
  • are on benefits because they are unable to get a job?
  • are struggling to get by because they cannot get a job they are qualified for?
  • are making do in a job they don't like/are overqualified for/is low paid etc?
  • don't apply for a promotion for fear of a check being done and remain in a job they're bored with?

Perhaps the above are some stats that Unlock has or could get if they so desire.

As I mentioned in my first sentence there are cases where I do think it would be useful - when you don't have a closed criminal records system as I described above.  These cases are for serial 'criminals' - those that aren't rehabilitated (with a decent system designed to rehabilitate) and continue to commit offences over and over again. I dare suspect that in a large proportion of these cases these will be underlying mental or developmental issues that cannot be overcome with today's understanding of the complex nature of such things however those should be identified early on and the appropriate support afforded to those individuals rather than simply locking them (or whatever the disposal may be) up time and time again.  For others it will be a matter of need - again these should be identified and the appropriate support given to give that person a leg up and on there way rather than continually punishing them for trying to live.  For the rest (likely a small number) then they're the true life criminals that perhaps enjoy committing offences and it is those where such an Act would possibly exist (where you have an open records system) in my opinion.


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Is the ROA fair? Should they introduce a system where minor convictions for offences such as thefts, criminal damage and others like that where you pose no risk to anyone, are excluded from even an Enhanced DBS check? Especially if they are from some time ago, thus giving rehabilitated offenders a better chance of securing employment and leading law abiding lives?

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