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UK law on disclosure of spent convictions is a violation of human rights, Supreme Court confirms

19 June 2014 #Employment


Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.

The Supreme Court has confirmed that UK laws concerning compulsory disclosure of criminal offences for individuals seeking to work with children are a violation of the right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Certain professional bodies and employers are permitted to request Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates ("ECRCs"). ECRCs disclose every `relevant matter` on the Police National Computer, revealing all spent convictions, no matter how historic or minor.

In a judgment given this week in T and another v Secretary of State for the Home Department and another, the Supreme Court considered the case of T and JB who applied for jobs working with children. T had been given a warning, then aged 11, for stealing two bicycles. When T applied for a job at a football club this had to be disclosed as the role potentially involved interaction with children. JB, then aged 41, had been  given a caution for shoplifting some false nails. The compulsory disclosure of this caution was the reason she was rejected for a job as a care worker eight years later. Neither party had any other criminal record.

The Supreme Court held this violated respect to private life under Article 8 ECHR. The majority of the Supreme Court found that the interference was not justified and unlawful. The Court could not see “any rational connection” between “minor dishonesty as a child and the question whether, as an adult, the person might pose a threat to the safety of children”. The Supreme Court unanimously held that the interference is not necessary in a democratic society

Lord Wilson echoed the Home Secretary`s own words that the criminal records system should be scaled back to "common sense levels”.

Prior to the hearing, the Government amended the offending legislation.

For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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