UNLOCK e-newsletter – March 2010 Welcome to March 2010’s e-newsletter. UNLOCK have over 4,800 members, and this email is sent to every UNLOCK member who has provided us with an email address. If you have any suggestions for content, would like to make any submissions, or would like to make a comment on the UNLOCK e-newsletter, contact email@example.com. Any submissions must be received by the 25th of the month. You are more than welcome to pass this email on to others who you think may find it useful. If you have received the e-newsletter indirectly and find it useful, please sign up to receive directly by joining UNLOCK as a member, free of charge. This will guarantee that you receive it and will allow us to know who the e-newsletter is reaching.
In this month’s e-newsletter UNLOCK/Prison Reform Trust survey on the impact of a criminal conviction on finances Your last chance to sponsor Christopher Stacey for the London Marathon 2010 What we’ve been up to in March UNLOCKing Employment - UNLOCK publish Vetting & Barring Scheme: Issues raised by reformed offenders UNLOCKing Equality – Article in the Equality and Diversity Professional Journal on equality for reformed offenders UNLOCKing Employment - Home Office publish review into retention and disclosure of criminal conviction information UNLOCKing Employment – Rehabilitation of Offenders (Amendment) Bill passes Third Reading in the House of Lords UNLOCKing Insurance – Budget 2010 mentions insurance and criminal convictions Update of prisoner voting – amendment tabled to Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill UNLOCKing Experience: UNLOCK submit views to the Parole Board on their draft leaflet for prisoners A roundup of UNLOCK’s work in the Media
Useful information & advice UNLOCKing Insurance – Updated List of Insurers New guide by Nacro on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Find out what information the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) hold on you whilst it’s still free Child Sex Offender Disclosure Pilot to be rolled out nationally Opportunities for you to get involved UNLOCK/Prison Reform Trust survey on the impact of a criminal conviction on finances Your last chance to sponsor Christopher Stacey, who is running the London Marathon to raise money for UNLOCK Government consultations on the Vetting & Barring Scheme and the Criminal Records Bureau The Griffins Society Research Fellowships Programme - Women offenders: a unique research opportunity Other News (selected from UNLOCK’s delicious page)
UNLOCK/Prison Reform Trust survey on the impact of a criminal conviction on finances Back to top As most of you know, financial inclusion for reformed offenders has been one of UNLOCK’s key areas of work over the last couple of years. From access to insurance, opening a bank account in prison, managing your money, financial capability and obtaining a mortgage, a criminal record can have a major impact. That is why we have embarked on a piece of research with the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) (the project is called ‘Double Punishment). This is our opportunity to gather evidence to present to Government and the Financial Services Industry on the issues that reformed offenders face. As part of this, we are reliant on you, our members, giving us your views on the difficulties that you have had in the past, and potentially continue to have now. This is your opportunity to have your say. The more responses the get, the stronger the research will be. Now is the time to act. That is why today we are launching two online surveys, one for family members who have been affected by the conviction of a relative and another for members of UNLOCK who have been convicted but have never been to prison. We have also re-launched a survey that we have previously sent out, which is targeted at former prisoners. We really hope you are able to take a couple of minutes to complete the survey that applies to you. If you know of others who may be able to contribute, then please do share the links.
Family members If you are a family member of someone who has been convicted or spent time in prison, it would be a big help to us if you could fill out our survey for families. It covers the impact of a relative’s criminal conviction on your banking, insurance and borrowing. You can fill out by clicking on the following link - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RYGPMRG
UNLOCK members with a conviction but haven’t been to prison The second survey is for members of UNLOCK who have a conviction but have never been to prison. We would like to ask your help in building up evidence about the impact of a criminal conviction on personal finances and insurance. Please click on the link to open the survey http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CF33N5V
Repeat of survey for former prisoners Finally, in January, we ran a survey of UNLOCK members who had been to prison. In case you wanted to respond to that survey but missed the deadline, here’s another chance to help us out, by clicking on the following link - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZYC8KPK (Please note - if you have already responded to this survey, we have held onto your form and you do not need to respond again)
Your last chance to sponsor Christopher Stacey, who is running the London Marathon to raise money for UNLOCK Back to top As most of you will know by now, UNLOCK’s Information & Advice Manager, Christopher Stacey, is running the London Marathon on Sunday 25th April to raise money for UNLOCK. If you are able to donate to support his efforts, you can download a donation form here or donate directly to UNLOCK here. To read more about his marathon efforts, including a press release that we sent out earlier this month, visit the London Marathon page of UNLOCK’s website.
What we’ve been up to in March Back to top DON’T FORGET – You can keep up to date with developments at UNLOCK by following our Twitter page, become a fan of UNLOCK’s new Facebook page or sign up to our delicious updates (via RSS feed)
UNLOCKing Employment - UNLOCK publish Vetting & Barring Scheme: Issues raised by reformed offenders Earlier this month, we published a paper on the Vetting & Barring Scheme (VBS), which aims to detail the concerns that have been raised to us on the VBS. In particular, the two areas of concern on the VBS appear to be who will actually have to register and how the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will treat people with criminal convictions. This paper has been sent to numerous Ministers, Shadow Ministers and Government departments, with a view to us trying to ensure that steps are taken so that people with convictions are not unfairly treated. We welcome your comments on the paper. Have you had any experience of the VBS or the ISA? Do you have anything to add to the points raised in the paper? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, the VBS have this month published their comprehensive guidance on the scheme. From looking at the document, you will notice that there is very little by way of information on how the ISA will treat people with previous convictions – this is one of the main purposes of the above paper. The Government has also this month published two consultations (see below) on vetting, in particular the VBS’s ‘controlled activity’ definition and the ongoing need for CRB checks for positions subject to ISA registration. These are explained in greater detail below, but we would welcome your views in advance of the close of the consultations on the 16th June. Email email@example.com.
UNLOCKing Equality – Article in the Equality and Diversity Professional Journal on equality for reformed offenders Julie Wright, Deputy Chief Executive of UNLOCK, has written an article for the Equality and Diversity Professional Journal, where she argues that an unwillingness to employ ex-offenders risks precluding one-fifth of the available workforce. You can read the article here.
UNLOCKing Employment - Home Office publish review into retention and disclosure of criminal conviction information On Thursday 18th March, the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, published advice on the retention and disclosure of criminal records provided to him by Mrs Sunita Mason, his independent advisor for criminality information management. In last month’s e-newsletter, we published the submissions that we made to Sunita, and these documents are the outcome of her review. Visit the Home Office section on the review for a copy of the full review, a copy of Alan Johnson’s response, and the statement that he made in the House of Commons. UNLOCK have also published a Member Briefing which summarises the main aspects of the review that are particularly relevant to people with previous convictions. We would welcome your comments on the review, how you think it links up with the submissions that we made, and whether you think the recommendations would make any difference. You can see more information on this on the area of UNLOCK’s website on disclosure and retention issues. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments you have.
UNLOCKing Employment – Rehabilitation of Offenders (Amendment) Bill passes Third Reading in the House of Lords The ROA Amendment Bill has passed through the House of Lords. The Third reading - the final chance for the Lords to change the Bill - took place on 16 March and no amendments were made. The Bill now goes to the Commons for its consideration. Given the short timescale until a General Election, it is highly unlikely that it will proceed much further before the election. However, that would not the end of the Bill. Depending on the outcome of the election, the Bill could be re-introduced into the Lords. We will keep you up to speed with developments.
UNLOCKing Insurance – Budget 2010 mentions insurance and criminal convictions Point 3.77 of the Treasury’s 2010 Budget (p.47, p.53 of the pdf) states that “the ABI will continue to work to improve access to insurance by developing guidance for insurers on how to treat customers with criminal convictions.” This is a result of the positive work that UNLOCK has been doing with the insurance industry to improve the practices of insurers towards customers with criminal convictions, and follows the publishing a guidance on buying insurance online, which was also published by the ABI, which UNLOCK was involved in.
Update of prisoner voting – amendment tabled to Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill In an attempt to overturn the ban on all serving prisoners from voting, and in accordance with the ECHR ruling that such a ban is unlawful, Lord Ramsbotham (UNLOCK’s President) has put down an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill [HL], which is now at Committee stage in the House of Lords. His amendment is to remove Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 which is the section that makes prisoner voting unlawful.
UNLOCKing Experience: UNLOCK submit views to the Parole Board on their draft leaflet for prisoners In follow up to UNLOCK's response to the Parole Boards Stakeholder Consultation, the Parole Board agreed to publish a leaflet targeted at prisoners explaining the Parole Board process. We, and others, were asked to provide our thoughts on their initial draft. In response, we have put together a together, outlining our thoughts on the idea of a leaflet for prisoners, and setting out our views as to how this could be more effective. You can download this document here.
A roundup of UNLOCK’s work in the Media
Does prison reform? – BBC Three Counties Radio, 3rd March, 1pm. Prisoner Voting – London’s Biggest Conversation, 9th March, 1pm Commenting on the Jon Venables case - Interview with BBC Kent News, 9th March Prisoners must be allowed to vote, Council of Europe warns Britain – The Guardian, 9th March Reformed offender ‘on the run’ for charity – UNLOCK Press Release, 11th March The Kray’s by Fred Dinenage - 15th March, Crime & Investigation They just won’t let Tuggy go straight – The Times, 21st March Financial Issues for Prisoners - Prison Radio Association UNLOCK at HMP Erlestoke’s Question Time – Soldier - March/April 2010
Useful information & advice Back to top UNLOCKing Insurance – Updated List of Insurers This month we have published an updated version of the list of insurers that we circulate to individuals who are having difficulties obtaining insurance because of a past criminal conviction. This can be downloaded here. Feel free to share this amongst groups or organisations that you are involved in. If you are still involved with Probation, make sure the relevant people have copies available to pass on to others.
New guide by Nacro on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Nacro’s Resettlement Plus Helpline have recently put together an updated version of their guide to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA). In particular, it contains probably the most comprehensive list of disclosure periods for various types of offences that is available anywhere – a great deal of research has gone into this and will be extremely useful to anybody who is unsure about the disclosure period of their conviction. We have asked for Nacro’s consent to share this publication with UNLOCK members, and host a copy of it on our website, as it is not yet available to download from the Nacro website. Let us know what you think – email email@example.com
Find out what information the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) hold on you whilst it’s still free We recently found out that, at the moment, you can find out what information, if any, the Independent Safeguarding Authority hold on you, free of charge. The ability to find out information that is held on you is enshrined in the Data Protection Act 1998. There is a charge normally involved (usually £10) to cover the costs of administration. However, as the ISA is a relatively new body, they have yet to introduce these charges. They are planning to do so in the near future, so you may have to be quick before there is a cost involved. Why is this useful? If you are currently barred by the ISA, you can find out what information they used to bar you. This is particularly relevant if you haven’t been convicted of an automatic-barring offence, as there may be other information such as allegations, information from your previous employer. Contact details are below: Haydn Rees Jones | Information Governance Officer Independent Safeguarding Authority, Stephenson House, PO Box 181, Darlington, DL1 9FA T: 01325 953743 E: Haydn.ReesJones@ISA.gsi.gov.uk
Child Sex Offender Disclosure Pilot to be rolled out nationally In March 2010, the Home Office published an evaluation of the Child Sex Offender Review (CSOR) Public Disclosure Pilots. This detailed a review of a pilot in 4 areas where information related to child sex offences was disclosed to individuals who applied to the Police where somebody has access to children and there was a suspicion that they had child sex offences. The result is that the Home Office have announced that they intend to roll the disclosure scheme out nationally.
Opportunities for you to get involved Back to top For a full list of external opportunities featured in previous e-newsletters, visit opportunities to contribute in the Press & Media section of the UNLOCK website. We also maintain a separate section specifically for Latest job opportunities in the Employment section of the Information & Advice area of the UNLOCK website.
UNLOCK/Prison Reform Trust survey on the impact of a criminal conviction on finances We need your input and views on a research project that we are carrying out with the Prison Reform Trust on the financial issues that reformed offenders and their families face. This is your opportunity to have your say. The more responses the get, the stronger the research will be. Now is the time to act. More information can be found earlier in this e-newsletter. The survey links: Family members - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RYGPMRG UNLOCK members with a conviction but havenâ€™t been to prison http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CF33N5V Repeat of survey for former prisoners - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZYC8KPK
Your last chance to sponsor Christopher Stacey, who is running the London Marathon to raise money for UNLOCK If you are able to donate to support his efforts, you can download a donation form here or donate directly to UNLOCK here. To read more about his marathon efforts, including a press release that we sent out earlier this month, visit the London Marathon page of UNLOCKâ€™s website.
Government consultations on the Vetting & Barring Scheme and the Criminal Records Bureau The Department for Children, Schools & Families (DCSF) have this month launched two consultations relating the vetting.
We encourage UNLOCK members to respond directly to these consultations with any views that you have. However, we also plan to respond to both consultations, and would welcome any views or comments you have to put forward to us to help inform our response. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and comments.
Consultation 1 - Public Consultation on continuing need for a controlled activity category in the Vetting and Barring Scheme Launch Date: Tuesday 23 March 2010, Closing Date: Thursday 17 June 2010
“The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) includes a category of controlled activity in relation to children or vulnerable adults, comprising posts in the Further Education, health-care, and Local Authority sectors. This consultation asks for views on whether the Government should propose in the medium term to reduce this category in the VBS or remove it entirely, by moving some posts into regulated activity, and removing others from regulation by the VBS.” In essence, the introduction of ISA registration will, from July requires anybody doing ‘regulated activity’ to register with the ISA. As you can see from our VBS paper above, this will cause issues for many reformed offenders, not least because there is the potential for the ISA to bar people with previous convictions and, once ISA registration is needed, it also allows an employer to carry out a CRB check, which will provide your full conviction history. If you are barred, it will be illegal for you to work in regulated activity. Regulated activity is anticipated to cover 9 million people in the UK. However, there is a further category of work called ‘controlled activity’. This is expected to cover around 500,000 positions. In these roles, ISA registration will be required, but no CRB check will be carried out unless you are barred. If you are barred, the employer will have the option to employ you with appropriate safeguards. This consultation draws upon Sir Roger Singletons review of December 2009 and seeks views as to whether the definition of ‘controlled activity’ is needed. Our understand it is the plan of government to regard most ‘controlled activity’ as ‘regulated activity’. This has consequences for reformed offenders.
Consultation 2 - Consultation on statutory requirements and advice, for CRB disclosures for safeguarding purposes, on workers already registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority Launch Date: Tuesday 23 March 2010, Closing Date: Wednesday 16 June 2010
“The existing statutory requirements and Government advice for CRB disclosures for safeguarding purposes, in relation to workers who will, in the future, be already registered with the ISA under the new Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS). This consultation asks for views on whether the Government should propose to amend requirements, or should amend recommendations, in some of these cases.” This consultation looks to question whether there is a continuing need for a statutory requirement to undertake a CRB check for positions that are subject to ISA registration. Note that this consultation only looks at the statutory requirements, and not the statutory ability, to carry out a CRB check. It seems that there is no current intention to actively prevent employers whose positions are subject to ISA registration from undertaking a CRB check.
If you intend to respond to either of the consultations, you may find the following documents useful: UNLOCK’s Briefing Paper on the Criminal Records Bureau Vetting & Barring Scheme – Issues raised by reformed offenders Email email@example.com if you have any questions about either of the consultations, and with any thoughts, views and comments that you wish to be included in UNLOCK’s response.
The Griffins Society Research Fellowships Programme - Women offenders: a unique research opportunity The closing date for applications is 28 April 2010 The Griffins Society have informed us how they would very much like to make this Fellowship Programme more available to those with personal experience of the criminal justice system, and so we offered to circulate it around in this month’s e-newsletter to try and generate some interest. Details are below. “Do you want to undertake a research project about a women’s issue that concerns you? If you have a strong interest in women offenders, a Griffins Research Fellowship could provide the opportunity you have been looking for. Griffins Research Fellows progress their research project alongside their employment. They receive academic support from the Society and from the London School of Economics. The Society provides a small research grant and we help with getting Fellows’ research reports published at the end of the Fellowship. Fellowships last one year: previous research experience and a degree are not necessary, though applicants must be capable of studying and writing at or near degree level. Griffins Fellowship research is influential, so if you are passionate about the need for more effective criminal justice engagement with women offenders, this is your chance to help shape the future. For more information about the Griffins Society Research Fellowships Programme and how to apply for a Fellowship, visit the Griffins web site www.thegriffinssociety.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org The closing date for applications is 28 April 2010.” If you intend to apply, please let us know how you get on by emailing email@example.com
Other News (selected from UNLOCK’s delicious page) Back to top
03/03/2010 - Sex offender disclosure scheme to go nationwide 03/03/2010 - IPCC head to become chief inspector of prisons 10/03/2010 - Not all new starts for ex-offenders are what they seem – comment by UNLOCK’s Director of Projects, Chris Bath, underneath this article 12/03/2010 - Sex offender disclosure procedure ignores data protection risk assessment 17/03/2010 - Children who offend need our help – not our hatred 19/03/2010 - Old criminal records can stay secret 23/03/2010 - 2010 budget: Banks 'to be forced' to provide accounts for all
DON’T FORGET – You can follow all the relevant news by visiting UNLOCK’s delicious page. Sign-up to receive updates as and when they happen.
Sent to you by Christopher Stacey LLB LLM | Information & Advice Manager Back to top
UNLOCK’s e-newsletter is distributed to all UNLOCK Members who subscribe with an email address and are happy to be contacted by UNLOCK via email. The e-newsletter content may be reproduced providing UNLOCK is referenced as the source We would welcome submissions to the e-newsletter. To submit content, email firstname.lastname@example.org To subscribe to receive UNLOCK’s e-newsletter, you can register, free of charge, as an UNLOCK Member at http://www.unlock.org.uk/onlineform.aspx. Any queries can be directed to email@example.com To unsubscribe, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Unsubscribe”.
© UNLOCK, the National Association of Reformed Offenders, 2010 35a High Street | Snodland | Kent | ME6 5AG T: 01634 2473500 E: email@example.com W: www.unlock.org.uk