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Historic convictions for consensual acts to be deleted

The Home Office is to begin the process of correcting an anomaly which has for decades seen gay men unfairly stigmatised.

The Home Office will, from 1 October, begin the process of correcting an anomaly in the criminal records system which has for decades seen gay men unfairly stigmatised.

Anyone with a historic conviction, caution, warning or reprimand for consensual gay sex, that meets the conditions laid down in the new Protection of Freedoms Act, will be encouraged to come forward and apply to have these records deleted or disregarded.

Until now, people wishing to volunteer or work in roles that require criminal records checks have been discouraged from doing so, for fear of having to disclose offences which have long since been decriminalised.

These changes mean that, after a successful application, this information no longer needs to be disclosed on a criminal records certificate and those individuals who may have been inhibited from volunteering or seeking new work will now find that inhibition removed.

The change was made under the Protection of Freedoms Act, which received royal assent on 1 May 2012. The Home Office is working closely with the Courts and Tribunals Service, and the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Ministry of Defence to run the application process. A dedicated team of caseworkers will consider each case and make recommendations to the Home Secretary who will have the final decision.

Successful applicants will have their records updated so the offence will no longer appear on a criminal records certificate or be referred to in any future court proceedings.

Full details of the application process will be published by the Home Office shortly, but any advance queries can be sent to chapter4applications@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

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