Job hunters or those seeking to work overseas, but who may have had previous convictions, are being encouraged to apply to have their records expunged where applicable.
This, said Acting Administration Officer II in the Office of the Attorney General, Ricardo Brewster, was especially important, as potential employers were insisting that new staff have clean criminal records before being considered for employment.
During an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Mr. Brewster explained that this trend was especially prominent in the hotel and security sectors, and for those seeking employment overseas through the labour programme. In the latter instance, he pointed out that embassies were also not granting visas if applicants??? police certificates of character showed that they had previous convictions.
???Before you could work in certain jobs with a little misdemeanour on your record, but over the last five years, employers are not allowing you to come unless everything is cleared off. They are erring on the side of caution regardless of the job type,??? he explained.??Mr. Brewster said this has resulted in the number of applications by ex-inmates increasing, with between 75 and 80 being received annually.
The Administration Officer is urging applicants not to wait until the last minute to apply to have their records expunged, as there was a process to follow which could take between three and six months.??Those persons who are eligible to have their records expunged are those who were sentenced for a term not exceeding one year. Such persons may apply for their record to be expunged seven years after serving the said conviction and if there has been no other conviction.
In addition, those sentenced for a term exceeding one year, but not exceeding three years, may apply for their record to be expunged ten years after serving the sentence and if there has been no other conviction.??Alternatively, if a person is given a non-custodial sentence, they may apply for the record to be expunged five years after its imposition, once there has been no other conviction.
Mr. Brewster pointed out that the first part of the process was for the person to collect the application forms from the Office of the Attorney General, Webster Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael, and follow the guidelines attached.??In addition to filling out both sides of the application form, applicants should also have two passport size photographs authorised by an Attorney-at-law or a Justice of the Peace with their stamp on the back of the picture.
They should also have two reference letters, typed or legibly written. Those letters should be from persons who knew the applicant for five years or more. ???The letters should outline the capacity in which the person knows the applicant, and include whether or not they were aware the person had a run in with the law; confirm that the person is now completely rehabilitated; and that they have no reservations in recommending them for expungement,??? Mr. Brewster said.
He added that the reference letters should also include whether or not the referee was related to the applicant, and indicate whether or not the applicant was gainfully employed or involved in a community group.??Once these forms are completed and the necessary documents, including a recent police certificate of character and an original birth certificate, are attached, they must be returned to the Office of the Attorney General for processing. In cases where applicants are from overseas, they would also need a police certificate of character from the country where they reside.
After this stage is completed, Mr. Brewster said a copy of the application, along with the particulars, would be sent to the Commissioner of Police, via his Records Office section, for the information to be researched.??That information would then be sent back to the Central Police Station for further checks to determine whether or not the applicant was involved in any criminal activity since their last offence.
The next step in the process is for the report to be attached to the application and sent to a Board which will convene a meeting and deliberate on the information. That board, Mr. Brewster said, consists of a representative from the Royal Barbados Police Force, a Magistrate, a Judge, a senior civil servant, a Minister of Religion and a Psychologist.??The results of those deliberations would then be forwarded to the applicant via a letter.