Welcome to this brand new website offering a brand new service – helping people with spent convictions start over with a clean slate.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
For decades, many people who committed a crime several years ago have had the right not to declare it when applying things like a job or insurance. This is because the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 says a sentence becomes “spent” after a certain amount of time, thereby helping people start afresh.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974: Google and GDPR
Amongst other things, the Act sets out in a table the period of time for sentences to become spent – or rehabilitated. It takes in everything from a fine to time spent in prison. But there is a cut-off point: a sentence of over four years can never be spent.
It describes the effect of rehabilitation as “a person who has become a rehabilitated personin respect of a conviction shall be treated for all purposes in law as a person who has not committed or been charged with or prosecuted for or convicted of or sentenced for the offence or offences which were the subject of that conviction.” In other words, after a sentence is spent, it should be treated as if it never happened.
This is good news and many people with convictions have been able to move on.
The Google Effect
There is a limit to the effect of the 1974 Act, however, because search engines, such as Google, still hold details of people’s convictions especially if they have appeared in the media. This means that employers and others in authority have been able to google someone and see information about their past criminal conviction and wonder whether they can be trusted.
This has affected millions of people and some have tried, unsuccessfully, to get Google to remove details of their convictions from any search on their name.
The Right to be Forgotten
You may have heard of The Right to be Forgotten which first hit the headlines in May 2014. It stems from a case that started 16 years ago when a Spanish man, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, hit financial difficulties and had to put his property up for auction. This was covered by a local newspaper which was also online. The auction sorted out Mr Gonzalez’s troubles and he wanted to move on with his life. The problem was that, when anybody searched his name, the details of his previous financial woes came to light. He took an action against Google Spain and the case eventually reached the EU’s Court of Justice which ruled that the search results damaged his reputation and he had a right to be forgotten.
Google and GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation)
There is a new piece of legislation about to hit the statute books that will enshrine the Right to be Forgotten – also known as the Right to Erasure – in law. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sounds boring but, in fact, helps redress the power over your personal data. Article 17 entitles the “data subject” (you and me) to have the “data controller” (Google, Facebook and any other organisation that holds your personal information) erase his/her personal data. The conditions for erasure include the data no longer being relevant to original purposes for processing, or a data subject withdrawing consent.
The High Court
Recently the Right to be Forgotten came before the High Court. The Court ruled that Google had to remove details of an individual’s crime from its search results after a case brought by two men who each had a spent conviction.
We think this is a great decision and it inspired us to launch this service. We want to help people to get Google to remove details of their criminal convictions so they can start again with a clean slate!