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Gay sex criminal records will NOT be ‘deleted’, campaigners say

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  1. This is the case with all convictions that are considered to be “spent”. They are never deleted – they just don’t require disclosure by the applicant.

    I would prefer Stonewall (and other activists) to focus their energies on preventing the murder of LGBTs in developing countries.

  2. Jim

    I agree. We can’t just ‘delete’ history. When a marriage is annulled, it’s existence isn’t just wiped from the archives.

    Such convictions will be deemed as annulled and therefore it won’t interfere with any CRB checks etc.

    Until I see PROOF that they will, then I am happy with what has been proposed.

  3. Although I speak as a lesbian (who was never historically criminalised), does this situation actually matter in real terms? It presumably affects some males aged 60 and over. Are there any situations where such convictions will materially affect these guys?

    I think there are more important issues on the gay agenda, so let’s keep some perspective.

    1. concerned resident E3 5 Jun 2011, 3:08pm

      Note that the police only stopped prosecuting men aged 16-21 for having consensual sex with other men in the early 90s. So there will be people as young as their late 30s who will be affected.

  4. Depends on the nature of your work because they are classified as being spent in cases some you WILL be required to declare them.

    If travelling to the USA you are meant to declare all convictions even spent ones.

    yet those having sex/babies under the age of 16 these days are never charged.

    Gav

  5. Liz

    Hmmmmm, I see where you’re coming from, but if you were one of those men with that conviction, wouldn’t you want it overturned as a matter of getting the respect you deserve from society? To get rid of that humiliation onc and for all?

    It may not be as important as saving gay people’s lives, but it still has to be done. And as it is one of the easier things to do, it should just be dealt with all the more quickly.

  6. Gav

    It will depend on whether it’s labelled as ‘spent’ or ‘annulled/quashed’. Spent means the conviction technically still stands and that you did something wrong. Annulled or quashed means the conviction was considered wrong after reassessment.

    If it’s just ‘spent’, we need to get lobbying!

  7. Jock S. Trap 11 Feb 2011, 2:54pm

    Although the intention is good more needs to be done to make people feel these convictions do Not affect their lives anymore.

    These convictions should never had to wait 44 years to be removed. At least now action is going the right way.

  8. Jock

    But what more can really be done than annulling these convictions and telling people that this is the case?

  9. Liz’s comment “It presumably affects some males aged 60 and over” is very disturbing. First, if she had read more carefully she would understand that she is simply wrong. Second, even if she was right, would that make it OK? Try this on Liz, “It only affects lesbians, so it’s really not a high priority issue”. Feel good? And finally, by your own admission Liz, you don’t know what it is like to be criminalised for your sexual orientation so who are you to say how important it is.

  10. the reason this lack of deletion may be significant lies in a number of places.

    First, although crb checking and vetting is being rolled back NOW, a future Labour government may bring it back. In respect of checking, it was explicit that “soft information” could be used and – in terms of model-building around who was to be deemed (statistically) a risk to children and vulnerable adults ANY previous conviction might count.

    If it remains within the database, it is capable of being used against someone.

    Similarly, when a pc stops someone, they will note that there is a conviction, even though it is meant to be disregarded.

    Oh, yes: so ALL pc’s will automatically go with that and NO pc’s will ever be sufficiently homophobic to allow this information to colour their subsequent dealing with an individual? I doubt it.

    The point – as someone who spends half her life writing about legal and techy issues – is that there are several alternatives available, including legislating to demote the status of this information to hidden and/or archive it off the base.

    that’s not especially difficult to do – and would reduce the possibility of the info being brought back into use, however unwittingly.

    jane
    xx

  11. Clause 86 seems fairly comprehensive to me:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmbills/146/11146.68-74.html#j102ef

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’m not sure how much further the legislation could go.

  12. Dan Filson 11 Feb 2011, 3:53pm

    I wish people posting on this site would stop endlessly have a go at other posters or Stonewall or other bodies, taking exception at them not doing enough or not giving the perfectly nuanced reply..

    Liz thought the beneficiaries of this measure, such as it is, might mostly be in their 60s+, as it would if it was just those convicted pre the Sexual Offences Act 1967 which decriminalised gay sex between men in private where both were over age 21.

    But the field off those benefiting – even if some dispute how much is the benefit – is much wider, for example those involving gay sex between men in private where both were over age 16 before the age of consent got lowered to that age. I don’t know who exactly will benefit and who won’t.

    I also don’t know how people should handle declarations for visits to the USA where spent and presumably deleted convictions must still be declared.

    My father once asked Denis Healey, then I think Defence Secretary, how he coped with the “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” question, both having been in the CP before the Second World War. Healey replied “I lie”, with – I imagine – his cheeky grin, but in his case the Feds would have known his past and could hardly refuse to admit their closest ally’s Defence Secretary!. Not every one can lie with such self-assurance that it will work.

  13. Also potentially of interest is the Privacy Impact Assessment (which gives some further details of the expected process):

    http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/legislation/freedom-bill/pia-report?view=Binary

  14. Does this change also affect straight sex offenders equally? I can’t see the point enacting such a law if it means previous, historic convictions aren’t expunged entirely for whatever reason.

  15. One other link that I just noticed, the Equality Impact Assessment, which says:

    “The number of cases on the Police National Computer (PNC) which involve a Section 12 or Section 13 offence is estimated at in excess of 50,000 of which some 16,000 may fall within the scope of this policy.”

    http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/legislation/freedom-bill/removal-consensual-gay-sex-eia?view=Binary

  16. Tim Hopkins 11 Feb 2011, 4:03pm

    The proposed new rules cover gross indecency and buggery. Gross indecency was a gay specific offence and so did not criminalise mixed-sex acts.

    I believe however that buggery was a crime in England and Wales when done between a man and woman, as well as between men, until at least 1994 (don’t have my acts of Parliament here to check).

    But the new rule applies to buggery generally, so as far as I can see would also cover straight people who have been convicted for consensual buggery with someone of the opposite sex aged over 16. If in fact any such convictions happened.

  17. Well I’m a lesbian women and I also work with children and know that any sexual charge could stop you getting a CRB. At the end of the day gay sex is no longer illegal and so should there for be comepletely removed from your records. We’re not talking about REAL criminaol charges here! This isn’t rape or sex acts on children, this is something that should never have been a criminal charge in the first place.

    Yes I agree there are other important things LGBT related, but for someone who is 60 or over this would be VERY important and they can’t be ignored because some feel it doesn’t really matter that much!

  18. Jonathan Cash 11 Feb 2011, 4:57pm

    I am 42 years old and when I was in my late teens in the mid-’80s, I was prosecuted for consensual adult sex in private. West Yorkshire police took to Bradford Police Station, and a “doctor” in a white coat, ordered me to undress in front of two smirking policemen, made me lay down on a bench and “examined” me (internally as well) to, apparently, “see if he’s gay or not”.
    The case went to crown court where I was told by an ageing judge that (paraphrasing here):”The reason this law exists it to protect you people and give you some extra time to decide whether you want to embark on this lifestyle or not”.
    I was given a two-year probation sentence. My probabtion officer told me such gems as “Some people think that homosexuals are disgraceful.” Period. Thanks. The trial and humiliation at the hands of the law affected me badly for years. Despite my ambitions to be a teacher, I was told I never could be due to CRB checks. In 2008, a potential employer in a financially-related organisation did a CRB check and the first I knew they had done so was a letter arriving on my doormat from the powers that be (copied to the HR department of this cmpany) giving details of “gross indecency” and “buggery”. Now, as details emerge, it seems that I would have to apply for these details to be officially deleted. Gee, thanks.
    Jonathan Cash, author of The First Domino http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-12232.html/

  19. I would think that if there are any circumstances which actually result in people with such convictions being adversely affected within the UK (as opposed to just hypothetical examples that we might dream up, or examples involving the US visa waiver program), then there is a very good chance of successfully appealing this to the European Court of Human Rights. But obviously to do that needs a good, clear-cut test case and an organisation willing to finance it (or a legal team willing to work pro bono).

  20. I pointed this out to Pink News earlier, and they deleted my post.

    Touchy buggers on here.
    If you commit a crime, its on record for life. Even though the crime may not exist any more, you cannot ‘uncommit’ it.

    What is being done is simply that this information will not be available for CRB checks etc.

  21. Its no joke 11 Feb 2011, 6:32pm

    > Jonathan. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed reading your experience. Cause it sounds like it was a nightmare. But thanks. Makes me realise what a load of hogwash this tory idea is. And remember how bad it was in this country before the last labour gov changed things.

  22. Tim Hopkins:
    Buggery is defined in law as anal sex between two men.
    The crime, as it was between a man and a woman was defined as sodomy.

    Anal sex between two women without the use of a tool was just considered a gymnastic impossibility.
    As the great Adrella once said “You can’t get a fanny up a bum.” :)

  23. @Its no joke “remember how bad it was in this country before the last labour gov changed things”

    It not Labour who make good, they have many chance change thing but only few years ago? They force change by EU. They idiots. All politicians are idiots.

  24. Tim Hopkins 12 Feb 2011, 3:17am

    Spanner, you’re mistaken on this. The Sexual Offences Act 1956 makes clear that it was an offence for a “person to commit buggery with another person or an animal” (section 12). That certainly includes anal sex between a man and a woman. (Explanatory notes for later amending legislation confirm that.)

    The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 decriminalised heterosexual and homosexual buggery between consenting people over 18. The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 reduced that age to 16.

    In contrast, in Scotland, the crime was known as sodomy instead of buggery, and only applied between men.

  25. The fact that a conviction is ‘deleted’ doesn’t mean that it won’t appear in a CRB check. A friend of mine who is in his early 60’s recently had a CRB as a taxi driver, (not his first as he’s been doing the job for years) , and for the first time an offence he committed in his early teens,(trespassing in a local factory yard) appearred on the disclosure. He was called before the licensing commitee to explain why he’d ‘ lied’ on his application. This offence expired many years ago and he no longer had to disclose it. So hehad done no wrong by not doing so.
    So even though these ‘sex offences’ will be ‘deleted’ there is no guarantee that they won’t appear ‘by mistake’ at some point.

  26. This comment may seem tangental, but I see a theme of continued UK government lack of respect for privacy needs in this half-hearted proposal and in many other respects, including (of particular concern to me) those of people with a history of transsexuality.

    By great sacrifice, and the help of allies, this country saved itself from the traumatic horrors that were inflicted on populations on continental Europe in the 1930s and 40s. Our streets did not see police or troops rounding up and transporting thousands of people of minorities to terrible destinations. But we did welcome countless refugees from those terrors; we knew, or have since learned, almost every detail of those persecutions and crimes against humanity. But perhaps it is the fact that that it did not happen here that allows civil servants and politicians here to assume that the strict laws against the collection and retention of discriminatory data that flowed across Europe in the aftermath are not really needed, or rather can be ignored, here.

    Of course, it comes over as if the arrogance of the privileged. Or, if one is more paranoid, like coming from people who have an eye to future discrimination. Either way, outdated or unnecessary, potentially discriminatory data should be securely deleted. That is EU law.

  27. If they are to remain on the PNC has I have mentioned before, a spent conviction is never spent because they can be disclosed at the Chief Officers discretion. So unless they are completely wiped off the system they will show if an Enhanced CRB is required. Even non conviction data is being disclosed.

  28. Clause 85(5) does not mean the records will be destroyed /deleted /purged from police and court records. It means an entry is made on the record to indicate that it is a “disregarded offence”. This is not sufficient.
    Given the history of this law, it is heartless and mean to propose in the Bill to only allow for an entry against a record to indicate it is be treated as “disregarded”.
    Clause 85(5) is nothing more than the ACPO “stepped down” model. It does nothing to actually delete the records, so they no longer exist.
    There is no point keeping these records (even if disregarded) if they can’t used used, shared, and disclosed on CRB checks. Keeping the records (PNC, fingerprints, DNA, photos) means there remains the risk that a future government could make that information available or use it.
    Just because a conviction is “disregarded” does not mean that one has to admit to having a criminal record (for a sex offence) when applying for a visa, entering the USA, or other countries.

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