Letter: Branded a criminal

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I was appalled to read that "up to 12 million people seeking a job or a voluntary post are to be vetted each year to check if they have a criminal record" (report, 15 December)

How on earth are people who struggle to improve themselves after serving their sentences ever going to get jobs if all employers are encouraged to ask if all applicants have criminal records.

These records will only reveal what a person was convicted for. They will not reveal the circumstances or mitigating factors. Someone convicted, say, of supplying drugs, may only, in his youth, have passed a little cannabis or ecstasy to a friend before a dance or party. The record will imply that he is a drug dealer.

The purpose of a criminal record is to allow a judge to apply an appropriate sentence after a subsequent conviction. Hopefully the judge has the necessary skill, experience and judgement to use this information fairly in its context. No employer will have this.


Creech St Michael, Somerset