Irish Penal Reform Trust

UK: UNLOCK submission to Breaking the Cycle

4th March 2011

In Ireland, there is no legislation which provides for the expungement of a criminal record following a set period remaining offence free. IPRT is continuing to campaign for Spent Convictions legislation, first introduced to the Dáil in 2007, to be enacted at the earliest possibility.

Meanwhile, in the UK, where such legislation has existed since 1974 (by way of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act), a review is currently underway towards improving former offenders' access to employment, whilst protecting the community.

UNLOCK, the National Association of Reformed Offenders (UK), has just published its response to the Green Paper on 'Breaking the Cycle'. A number of UNLOCK's recommendations are of particular interest, including:

  • the premise should shift from a ‘licence to lie’ (ie. the non-declaration of convictions following set period) to making it an offence for an employer to ask an applicant or employee about spent criminal convictions (unless authorised, in accordance with excepted professions and occupations)
  • it must be made an offence for an employer or insurer to take into account spent convictions when making disadvantageous employment or insurance decisions
  • ‘Rehabilitation period’ should be renamed ‘disclosure period’ as it is more easily understood and factually accurate. 
  • A Criminal Records Tribunal should be established where people can apply to have their convictions to become spent ahead of the period set down in the legislation.

Read more:


Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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