Important Law Change…but Will Google Listen?

The Government have announced significant changes governing the rules on spent convictions. This is important for people who may have committed a crime some years ago but want to move on with their lives.

The new law does two things.  First of all, it shortens the time for a conviction to be “spent.” For example, those who were given a jail sentence of under 6 months used to have to wait 2 years from the end of their sentence before their conviction was spent, while those who were sentenced to over 6 months had to wait 4 years. Now, those in custody for under a year will only have to wait a year before they do not have to declare it.

It also abolishes the cap of 4 years for a conviction to be spent. In the past those who had been sentenced to more than four years in prison would never have a spent conviction, now this has been lifted and there is no limit to rehabilitation.

In order to keep the public safe, this change excludes serious sexual, violent of terrorist offences that will never be spent.

Despite this positive news, the question is whether Google and other search engines will abide by it. In the past they have taken a subjective view on the morality in any given case. They argue that keeping outdated and unlawful information available to all is in the public interest, regardless of the will and opinion of elected MPs whose job it is to determine what is in the public interest.

In this case, it makes sense for those who have served their time and have spent sentences to be able to find work, pay taxes and move on instead of being forced to claim benefits and be lured back into law breaking.

Hopefully Google and others will accept this new law and allow people a second chance to contribute to society, rather than being continually haunted by their previous mistakes. This, surely, is in the public interest.