Employment Law | Potential Overhaul of Criminal Convictions Disclosure

There may need to be major changes to the criminal records disclosure system after a landmark Appeal Court ruling yesterday (January 29th) decreed that the law requiring people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.

The ruling was due to have been made in December last year, but in an unusual move was delayed because the Government raised concerns about the implications for the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) system.

Three people had challenged the decision to order Enhanced Criminal Record checks, which were designed to protect children and vulnerable adults, saying that their career prospects had been harmed because of previous convictions.

One was the case of “T,” a 21-year-old man who received warnings from Manchester police when he was 11 years old in connection with two stolen bikes. He had thought that these were spent but then had to disclose them when he applied to get a part-time job at a local football club.

The criminal record checks system was tightened up after the case of Ian Huntley, who was jailed for life in 2003 for the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

It subsequently emerged that Huntley had obtained a job as a school caretaker, which is how he won the trust of Holly and Jessica, because his criminal past had not been shared by Humberside Police.

Following the case, the 2004 Bichard report recommended that all applicants for any job where the applicant might come into contact with children should undergo an enhanced criminal record check.

When he delivered the ruling, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said the disclosure of old convictions and cautions had been designed to protect children and vulnerable adults but that the disclosure of all convictions and cautions relating to recordable offences is disproportionate to that legitimate aim.

However, the Government has said that it is disappointed with the ruling and will seek leave to challenge it in the Supreme Court.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London