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Liberal Democrats

F32: Criminal Records

Motion Passed by Conference

Proposed by: Young Liberals

Mover: Thom Campion.

Summation: Alexandra Kimmons.


Conference notes that:

  1. There are over 11 million people residing in the United Kingdom who have a criminal record.
  2. Currently, no criminal record information is deleted, including crimes committed by those under 18.
  3. Criminal record information remains on both the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) system and the Police National Database (PND).
  4. Criminal records can negatively affect job prospects, travel, the ability to adopt, the ability to access domestic violence shelters, and many other parts of civil life.
  5. Liberty, a civil rights organisation, has called for a “flexible system, which considers individual circumstances in cases involving old and minor convictions”.
  6. The Lammy Review (2017) concluded “the records disclosure regime hampers people with convictions from starting lives” and recommended “a system which involves looking favourably on those who committed crimes as children or young adults, and can demonstrate that they have changed since their conviction”.

Conference believes that:

  1. Rehabilitation should be central to any system of justice.
  2. Continued retention of information hinders the process of rehabilitation.
  3. Public interest in retention of criminal records must be balanced with the harm done to the individual by the existence and disclosure of such information.
  4. The current policy of holding on to all information does significant harm to individuals whilst, in the vast majority of cases, providing no public benefit.
  5. Disclosure to potential employers of criminal records can be a serious barrier to social mobility and social justice.

Conference calls for:

  1. An end to the blanket policy of retention of all criminal records.
  2. No personal information or criminal record to be retained by the police following an absolute discharge.
  3. All criminal cautions, conditional discharges, and associated personal information to be deleted from police databases after six years if no re-offence is committed.
  4. The government to develop guidance for the length of retention of criminal records of sentenced crimes and crimes where re-offences have occurred.
  5. Permanent retention of criminal records to only be permitted for serious crimes and matters of national security.
  6. Length of retention of records for sentenced crimes to be determined by the judiciary at point of sentencing according to this governmental guidance.
  7. A system of removal of records to be provided for all other dealings with the police, including previously tried crimes and alleged criminal activity not resulting in charge, with retention only permitted in cases where the police determine there is a public interest in holding the record.

Applicability: England and Wales.


Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.

For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9. To submit a speaker’s card go to: www.libdems.org.uk/speakers-card.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Monday 28 February; see page 12. Amendments selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Sunday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda.

The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 Saturday 12 March; see page 9.