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Rehabilitation reforms to launch next month

New reforms will cut the amount of time some offenders need to disclose details of any low level convictions, to help cut reoffending.

From 10 March, there will also be changes to the way some rehabilitation periods are set. Rehabilitation for community orders and custodial sentences will now comprise the period of the sentence plus an additional specified period rather than all rehabilitation periods starting from the date of conviction.

Research suggests that former offenders who gain employment are less likely to reoffend. The most serious offenders will continue to have to declare their convictions when applying for a job, and all offenders will still be required to declare previous convictions when applying for work with vulnerable people or in sensitive circumstances.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the changes were long overdue. “They will mean that people who have turned their backs on crime will be able to move on with their lives. Evidence shows that former offenders who are able to get back into the world of work and contribute to society are less likely to reoffend. Making a mistake and committing a minor crime when you are fifteen shouldn’t mean you are barred from employment for the rest of your life.”

Justice minister Simon Hughes said: “The Coalition government is committed to making sure that offenders take responsibility for their actions. But we also need to make sure that ex-offenders are able to contribute to society by getting an honest job and putting their offending behind them.

“These reforms will help guarantee the continued safety of the public. They will also give offenders who have served their sentence a fair chance of getting their lives back on track.”

Graham Beech, acting chief executive of Nacro, said: “Nacro welcomes the long overdue reforms to the Act because it will remove some of the difficulties that people face when they try to secure education, employment and insurance. It cannot be right that someone who made a mistake in their teens – the only act of criminality they’ve ever been involved in – is prevented from entering the labour market when they are in their thirties and forties because they still have to disclose the conviction to a prospective employer.

“Whilst some ex-offenders will still face barriers, and those who’ve served more than four years in prison will still need to disclose their previous convictions, many people who have successfully managed to put their offending behind them will no longer face the same obstacles in moving their lives on because of an age-old criminal record which has continued to hang around their necks. They will be hugely relieved to hear that these legislative changes have finally come into effect.”

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