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Category: Normal life

Joint Committee publish report on proposals to extend disqualification of trustees

Update – “In its report published today, the Joint Committee on the Draft Protection of Charities Bill backs proposals to give the Charity Commission more powers to ensure effective regulation of the charity sector. However the Committee is clear that effective safeguards must be in place to ensure charities and their trustees are treated fairly by the Commission.”

The report can be downloaded from the Parliament website.

In the report, the Committee has drawn on the evidence that we submitted in both oral and written evidence. In particular, see pages 56, 57, 64 and 72 of the report.

Unlock give evidence to Parliamentary Committee on rules regarding becoming a trustee with convictions

Yesterday our Director of Services, Christopher Stacey, gave evidence to the Joint Committee on the Protection of Charities Bill.

You can watch the evidence below (the session Unlock takes part in starts from 15.15), or you can follow this link to watch it on the Parliament TV site.

Update (January 2015) – Following the oral evidence, we followed this with written evidence which can be downloaded here – it is also available on the Parliament website.

For more information about the policy work around becoming a trustee, click here.

Charity Commission respond to our concerns about governing documents

We recently met with the Charity Commission, where we discussed a number of areas of concern as part of work to enable people with unspent convictions to become trustees of charities.

In particular, we discussed an issue that we raised in our report of February this year relating to a charities’ governing documents, and how the way that the Commission were interpreting these were causing problems for charities like Unlock to recruit people with convictions.

We’re pleased to report that the Commission have, following our meeting, provided us with the response below.

Turning to one of the specific issues we discussed, I referred the governing document point to one of our lawyers I can confirm that we seem to have been mistaken in 2011. The Articles as they were then did not mean a waiver would have been ineffective. If one had been granted it would have meant, as we thought at the meeting, that the individual was no longer disqualified and so could have been appointed as a trustee.

Charity Commission representative

We’re pleased that the Commission has taken a more common-sense approach to this. It removes what was otherwise a cumbersome bureaucratic hurdle that many charities would have had to go through (amending their governing documents) and now makes it somewhat easier for a charity to recruit somebody with unspent convictions.

You can find out more about our work on enabling people with convictions to become trustees of charities here.

Government publish Draft Protection of Charities Bill

Last week, the Government published their Draft Protection of Charities Bill, following the consultation they held earlier this year.

This paper sets out the Governments plans.

We’re continuing to raise a number of issues that we addressed in our consultation response, in relation to how people with convictions are treated.

Google removes search results of person with spent conviction

Today, the Guardian has published an article on Google’s response to the ‘right to be forgotten’.

In response to a particular example on their website, Google said: “A man asked that we remove a link to a news summary of a local magistrate’s decisions that included the man’s guilty verdict. Under the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act this conviction has been spent. The pages have been removed from search results for his name.”

Radio 4’s ‘The Report’ looks at ‘the right to be forgotten’

On the 18th September, Radio 4’s ‘The Report’ broadcast an edition which focused on the ‘right to be forgotten’.

In particular, they look at some particular cases that relate to people with criminal convictions.

You can listen to the recording here.

Are you affected by the online publication of your spent convictions?

The ‘Google effect‘ can result in discrimination from employers, universities and others. If you have a spent conviction that can still be found online  there may be a legal remedy. The GDPR gives people ‘the right to erasure’ – sometimes called ‘the right to be forgotten’.

The publication of an item, article or link which refers to a spent conviction and identifies the person concerned could be legally actionable as a misuse of private information and/or a breach of data protection rights.

Carter-Ruck, a law firm specialising in this area, has agreed to work with Unlock to advise people with spent convictions on a “no win no fee” basis. If there are grounds, this could mean action to have links removed from online searches against your name and/or the articles themselves taken down. In some  cases this may include a claim for costs and/or damages.

If you would like Carter-Ruck to consider your case, please complete this questionnaire. Alternatively, you can print and complete it manually, sending it by post to the address on the questionnaire. Your details will be treated in the strictest confidence and will not be shared beyond Unlock or Carter-Ruck without your permission.

We will pass all completed questionnaires to Carter-Ruck, who will contact you directly to advise, answer your questions and, where appropriate, to take your claim forward.

Carter-Ruck will keep us regularly up-to-date with progress on your claim.

Any information you provide will be kept in line with our confidentiality policy. Any personal information provided to us will not be shared externally without your consent.

Find out more about how we handle your data.

Learn more about what you can do if your spent conviction is used unfairly

DBS say that employers need to use the new DBS application forms

We’re pleased to hear that the DBS has today sent out a news update about their application forms, following Unlock’s complaint to the ICO.

In March 2014, the DBS announced that they were changing the question on their application form after a complaint by Unlock to the ICO. The complaint was about the DBS’s failure to promptly update their application form after ‘filtering’ came into force in May 2013.

In response to the complaint, the DBS updated the question they asked about criminal records, so that it made reference to ‘filtering‘, meaning that people with cautions and convictions didn’t need to disclose a caution or conviction when applying for a DBS check if it would be filtered.

Unfortunately, even after they took this action, we were still receiving calls to our Helpline from individuals who were applying for jobs, volunteering and university courses where they’d been given an old DBS form. This old form asked about “all convictions and cautions”. In one example we dealt with, a University was insisting that the individual disclose her conviction from 15 years ago, even though it was now filtered and so didn’t need to be disclosed. Although we eventually managed to resolve this issue, there were clearly still problems.

The main problem was that, although in March 2014 the DBS updated their form, they didn’t require registered bodies to use the new forms. This meant that many were still using the old form, causing lots of confusion about what individuals should and shouldn’t disclosed.

We raised this issue with the DBS, and the ICO, following our original complaint, and we are pleased that the DBS has now responded by making it clear that registered bodies need to use the new form, as well as sending these new forms to registered bodies for them to use.

The DBS has also produced an “Application form insert” which should be given to applicants who are doing DBS checks. This helps to explain to individuals what ‘filtering’ means, and helps to make it clear what individuals do and don’t have to disclose when applying for a role that involves a DBS check.


If you’re an employer, find out more useful information here.

If you’re an individual, find out more useful information here.


Google’s ‘right to be forgotten’

Information Hub Update

Read this update in full on our Information Hub.

You might have seen in the news recently that Google has launched a system where people can request information be removed from Google’s search results. This has come about because of a ruling on the 13th May by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The case was brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy. The court found in his favour, and this has potentially wide-reaching consequences for search engines like Google.

The ruling only covers the removing of the search results – the information will still exist on the website that published the original article but Google won’t be able to deliver matches to some enquiries that are entered. Deletion of the original information would still be the responsibility of the website owner, and in our experience, it’s very rare that websites agree to remove details relating to convictions (see more in reporting of criminal records in the media).

Information will only disappear from searches made in Europe. Queries piped through its sites outside the EU will still show the relevant search results.

However, many people are still seeing the ruling as a potential way of dealing with the ‘google-effect’ that often haunts people for lots of different reasons, and our Helpline and Forum have already seen this being raised by quite a few people when it comes to past convictions that have been reported online. So the important question for us is whether it will actually help people with convictions?

We’ve published a new section on our Information Hub looking at this, and written a ‘latest update‘ post for our Information Hub. We expect that this information will be regularly updated as we learn more about how the system works in practice.

We’re keen to see how Google are dealing with applications from people with convictions.

To do this, we’re encouraging people with spent convictions to complete Google’s online form, and get a decision from them. Bear in mind that they’re dealing with a lot of applications at the moment, so there might be quite a wait before you get a decision.

Once you receive a decision, please forward it to us to let us know what their decision is and why. You can forward their reply to us by sending it to (we won’t share your personal details externally). This will help us to collect evidence of how Google are dealing with requests from people with convictions, and help us to improve the information and advice we’re giving on this issue.

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

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