NIACRO Welcomes Criminal Record Review Scheme Following Campaign

NIACRO has welcomed a criminal record review scheme introduced today which will help people to move on from old or minor convictions.

The independent Criminal Records Filtering Review Scheme, which comes into effect today (1 March 2016) allows for an independent review of information disclosed on standard and enhanced criminal record certificates issued by Access NI. When offending information eligible for review relates to when an applicant was aged under 18, it will automatically be referred to the Independent Reviewer to consider whether disclosure is appropriate and proportionate; those with spent adult convictions will also have the opportunity to apply for a review.

The introduction of this scheme follows NIACRO’s successful Off The Record campaign last year, which called for old and minor convictions received under the age of 18 to be removed from criminal records, as recommended in the Youth Justice Review (2011). The campaign received unprecedented public and political support, with endorsements from Falklands War veteran Simon Weston OBE and campaigner Bob Ashford, who have both experienced the lasting impact of childhood convictions. Local actor Dan Gordon also publicly supported the call for change.

Responding to the introduction of the Scheme, NIACRO Chief Executive Olwen Lyner said:

“We welcome the Department of Justice’s recognition of the lasting and damaging impact of even minor convictions. It is particularly encouraging that those convictions received under the age of 18 will automatically be considered before disclosure to potential employment, education and training providers: this will support desistance and allow people to move on from previous offending, whilst still providing the necessary protections where appropriate.

“It is important to recognise, however, that the impact of minor convictions goes beyond Access NI and disclosure certificates. Having a criminal record can impact on a person’s ability to travel or purchase essential services like home or car insurance, which can in turn negatively impact that person’s family. We therefore will continue to build on the momentum from our Off The Record campaign and make the case for minor childhood convictions to be permanently expunged from criminal records.

“That said, we acknowledge that the scheme introduced today marks a significant step forward for Northern Ireland’s criminal records regime, and we appreciate that the Minister, the Department and the Committee for Justice responded so positively to the voices of our service users and the public on this issue. We wish the appointed Independent Reviewer, Simon Pountain, well in his post and encourage him to listen to service user feedback as this Scheme develops.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. NIACRO is a voluntary organisation which has been working for more than 40 years to reduce crime and its impact on people and communities.
  2. More information about NIACRO’s Off The Record campaign is available here and the short campaign film is here.
  3. Minister Ford’s statement on this Scheme is available here: http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/index/media-centre/news-departments/news-doj/news-doj-120216-ford-announces-independent.htm
  4. The guidance on the operation of this Scheme is available here: https://www.dojni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-operation-criminal-records-filtering-review-scheme
  5. Media Enquiries: contact Julia Kenny, 028 9032 0157 or julia@niacro.co.uk