Christopher Stacey, Co-Director at Unlock, said “We are pleased that the Government has announced today that the long-overdue reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 will come into force on the 10th March 2014. For far too long, people who have served their sentence and changed their ways have been prevented from moving on in their lives. As a result of these changes, many people with convictions who have in the past have been languishing on benefits will now be able to go out and get work and contribute positively to society”.
“Since the law was passed in 2012, our helpline has been receiving calls on a daily basis from people who have been putting their lives and careers on hold, waiting for the changes to come in. It’s clear to us that these changes will make a huge difference to thousands of people whose convictions will now be spent under these changes, giving them a fresh start when applying for many jobs, education courses and insurance services.”
“However, we must not forget that these changes are far from perfect. It will remain the case that anybody who receives a prison sentence of over 4 years will have to continue to disclose their convictions for the rest of their lives whenever they are asked, and this remains a huge stumbling block for many people who are trying to change their lives for the better. If the Government wants to truly transform our criminal justice system, it must recognise that access to stable employment is the most important factor in people desisting from crime, and having a criminal record disclosure system that continues to punish people for the rest of their lives is not in anybody’s interest”.
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