In reply, Anonymous wrote this:
"Abusers can convince you that it was a one off and blame it on the alcohol. They might even put friends and family reassure you that it was out of character. People do not take DV as seriously as they supposed to. That new law can be a life savior. I don't agree that someone has to go through the police to check it. I think it should be public record."First, I agree about the manipulation he or she mentions. It can be quite astounding what some of these people can make others believe. Many years ago I was junior counsel in a trial where the defendant had convinced ALL of the parents on his street to allow him to take "modelling" photographs of their teenage daughters. Needless to say the pictures were indecent but the point is that the parents were convinced that this man who lived alone, hardly went out and lived off his modest wage was in fact an influential fashion photographer in the employ of numerous well known fashion publications.
The interesting point for me is the final two sentences, which I have underlined. I admit that I had not previously considered the possibility of giving open access to criminal records. About 10-years ago a local authority in Essex decided to name and shame offenders. As a result photographs of local crooks began appearing around towns. At least one person sued and the High Court made the authority stop their campaign.
What are the implications of making criminal records publicly available? Proceedings in criminal courts are matters of public record and, in most cases, can be reported in the press. It does then seem a little incongruous that the Times can report on Tuesday that John Smith has been convicted of having indecent images of children but on Wednesday a potential employer has to apply to the authorities to find out if he is suitable to work with children.
If I applied for a job tomorrow and happened to have a conviction then I may well be required to disclose it to my potential employer.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame is passionately in favour of everyone being open about their lives to an extent that many of us would baulk at. I always thought his view was a rather naive, almost childish, one. But, part of me thinks that Anon's comment about criminal records being freely and openly available to the public makes some sense... maybe it's just the heat.
I wonder if anybody else has a view, either in favour of open access or against.