The government should consider forcing all employers to introduce a recruitment scheme that delays the point at which job applicants have to disclose criminal convictions, an influential of group of MPs has suggested.
The House of Commons justice select committee's report on disclosing youth criminal records, published on Friday, adds to a growing list of influential calls for the government to reform the disclosure system.
The committee acknowledges that employers are entitled to know about genuine and relevant risks arising from previous criminal conduct. However, too many employers 'fail to make an objective and balanced assessment of the relevance of "unspent" convictions declared in job applications,' the report says.
The committee recommends that the 'ban the box' scheme, under which employers remove the tick-box asking applicants whether they have a criminal record, should be extended to all public sector vacancies. The government should consider making this the norm for all employers.
In September 2015 Charlie Taylor, a child behavioural expert, was asked by then lord chancellor Michael Gove to lead a departmental review of the youth justice system. Taylor, who is now chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, concluded that once childhood cautions and convictions become spent, they should quickly become non-disclosable..
David Lammy MP, in his report on racial bias in the criminal justice system, suggested that criminal records could be sealed, as in many US states. Individuals could have their case heard by a judge or the Parole Board. There would be a presumption to look favourably on those who committed crimes either as children or young adults but could demonstrate that they have changed.
The committee recognises the potential advantages of applying to the court or Parole Board to have criminal records sealed. However, it says that this would impose 'unsustainable pressures' on the decision-making body because of the number of people likely to apply.
Instead, the committee suggests the government should retain a filtering system. The qualifying period for filterable childhood offences should be reduced from five-and-a-half years to a shorter period, and from two years to one year for childhood cautions.
A government spokesperson said that the committee's report has been noted and 'we will publish our response in due course'.
The government will consider recommendations made in the Lammy and Taylor reviews once Supreme Court litigation on the compatibility of the filtering regime with human rights standards concludes.