Certain past minor cautions and convictions should remain part of a protected private life and do not have to be disclosed in Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks, the Supreme Court has ruled today (18 June 2014).
A copy of the Supreme Court ruling can be found here – http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2014/35.html
In summary, Lord Reed and Lord Wilson have ruled that any requirement to disclose minor cautions and convictions is now incompatible with human rights legislation in England and Wales. The Supreme Court decision then upholds a ruling previously made by the Court of Appeal upon the point. The case had been previously heard on 9 December 2013 but only today (18 June) has the judgment been ready to hand down.
With reference had to this case, the case involved a man applying for a job who was forced to reveal two police cautions he had received aged 11. The man, known only by the initial “T” in order to keep his identity protected, said he had been forced to disclose warnings he received from Greater Manchester Police in connection with two stolen bikes and that when he applied for a part-time job at a football club when aged 17 and later applied for university courses (sports studies) his criminal record was checked and this he argued prevented him from securing work and his university place.
A woman, identified as “JB”, also challenged the checks after she was refused a job in a care home eight years after she received a caution for shoplifting.
Making their ruling, the Supreme Court judges said the disclosures T and JB had been required to make “were not necessary in a democratic society” and “were not based on any rational assessment of risk”.
Around four million people apply for a criminal records check every year. Last year, three Court of Appeal judges said the blanket checks could breach the right to a private or family life. After that ruling, the judges said it would be a matter for Parliament to decide what amendments to make to records check rules.
Since that announcement, the Home Office has introduced a system to filter out single minor convictions or cautions but the government pursued an appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling, saying the “protection of children and vulnerable groups must not be compromised” and seeking then an exemption in such cases.
Ultimately, effect of the ruling is that the law will remain the same as before but the decision is of importance to anyone who is or has applied for a job and queried whether to disclose or not disclose previous warnings, cautions, minor convictions and penalty notices, especially if the application relates to working with children or vulnerable people.
Under the new filtering system introduced by the Home Office, cautions given to adults are removed from criminal records checks after six years.
Cautions to children are filtered out after two years.