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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 15:59 GMT
Past crime 'ruined my dream'
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People's criminal records remain on file regardless of severity
Minor crimes and misdemeanours from a person's distant past can come back to haunt them later on, prompting calls for the slate to eventually be wiped clean for certain offences.

Four police forces are being ordered by the Information Commissioner to delete criminal records dating back decades because they are "no longer relevant".

The West Midlands, Humberside, Northumbria and Staffordshire forces have been told their records on four people breached data protection, after those individuals complained to the commissioner when their history showed up in checks during job applications.

In all cases the crimes were minor, and included a man caught using metal discs cut to the size of 1p and 10p pieces in a fairground slot machine in 1978, when he was 16.

The debate has led to other people, such as Ben Oram, aged 26 from Horsham, West Sussex to call for certain crimes to be dropped from an individual's record after a fixed period of time.

He was caught driving a scooter when he was 17, without a full licence or insurance. Given an eight-point penalty and 500 fine for what he admits were his "stupid" actions, he thought the matter had long been closed.

Driving crime

Three years ago he decided to pursue his dream of entering the police force and training to become a dog handler - but found that, nine years later, his previous motoring offence was still preventing him from working for the police.

"It was my friend's scooter, and I literally borrowed it to go down the road and get some sweets," said Mr Oram.

"On the way back the police stopped me because there weren't any L-plates on. They were going to let it go, but then I got asked if it was my bike and did I have insurance. I wasn't going to lie, so I told them the truth, and was arrested.

I've matured a lot and have done nothing wrong since then. When you're 17 you do everything wrong.
Ben Oram

"Three years ago I applied to join Sussex police, but when I sent off the application form I was told that because of my motoring offence, the answer was no.

"I tried again last year, but this time they wouldn't even send me an application form. They suggested I could try and join the Metropolitan Police but I live in Sussex and wanted to join that particular force."

Mr Oram, who works for a timber company, believes certain crimes should be removed from the records after several years, depending on the level of their severity.

"I'm now 26, I've had a child, and been in the same job for nine years. I've matured a lot and have done nothing wrong since then. When you're 17 you do everything wrong.

"Something like this should stay on your record for, say, four years. There should be different time lengths for different levels of crime.

"I know it was a stupid mistake, but I didn't kill anyone and didn't injure anyone."

Mr Oram said he has been left "stuck" after his rejection by the police. "There isn't anything else that appeals to me," he said. "I don't know what to do now."

Police ordered to delete records
01 Nov 07 |  England

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