The Lammy review – which was led by David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham and chair of the all party parliamentary group on race and community, and commissioned by then prime minister David Cameron in January 2016 – examined how black, asian and minority ethnic individuals are being treated by the criminal justice system.
Among its 35 recommendations is the proposal for the UK to introduce a US-style mechanism where people can apply to have their criminal record sealed. The judge or parole board considering the request would take into account if the offence was committed when the person was a child or a young adult, and if the offender could demonstrate that they have since changed their behaviour.
“A job is the foundation of a law-abiding life and the key to reform for any offender,” Lammy said. “Our criminal records regime must protect the public, but it is having the opposite effect and trapping offenders in their past. We need a more flexible approach that recognises when people no longer pose a risk to society and gives a chance to start afresh.” (Source: CIPD).
I do believe that everyone deserves a second chance in life especially if those who committed a crime in the distant past are no longer of any risk to society. I also believe that those who start afresh deserve to have a job to enable them to re-integrate in society. However, I am not sure a person’s past should be hidden from a prospective employer. In an age of googling or yahooing it is very difficult to just wipe out the past from everyone. I feel that the necessary trust between and employer and employee would be seriously breached should an employer come to know of someone’s past through the internet or some other means. I know, the situation can be very unfair on the poor person who is eager to start afresh.
I would rather work on helping employers deal with such situations in a sensible and sensitive way rather than hiding facts from them only to emerge at a later date with nasty consequences.