Criminal Law | Relaxation Of Criminal Record Checks Announced

The Home Office announced this week that old and minor cautions and convictions will no longer have to be disclosed to prospective employers, following a Court of Appeal ruling earlier this year that blanket checks did not comply with human rights laws.

However, all serious violent and sexual offences will continue to be disclosed when a check is made, as the Minister for Criminal Information, Lord Taylor of Holbeach insisted that the protection of children and vulnerable groups is of paramount importance.

Currently, a criminal records check processed through by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) provides details of an individual’s criminal record. For certain roles it will also include information held on the DBS’ children and adults barred lists, together with any information held locally by police forces that is reasonably considered to be relevant to the applied for post.

According to the Home Office, these checks are to assist employers in making safer recruitment and licensing decisions. However a check is just one part of robust recruitment practice. When a check has been processed by the DBS and completed the employer and individual will receive a DBS certificate.

Under the proposed legislation, convictions resulting in a non-custodial sentence will be filtered from record checks after 11 years for adults and five and a half years for young offenders.

While cautions will be filtered from record checks by the DBS, formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau, after six years for adults and two years for young offenders.

The ruling that triggered the proposed changes to the legislation was that of a young man, known as T, who had to disclose a police caution he had received at the age of 11 over two stolen bicycles when he applied for a part-time job at a football club.

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