Wednesday 18 June 2014

Disclosure of 'Spent' Convictions

Thanks to Georgia Hicks of Devereux Chambers for preparing this case summary
Is the obligatory disclosure of spent convictions for specified professions or persons working with children and vulnerable adults a necessary and proportionate interference with their Article 8 right to a private life?

No, held the Supreme Court in R (on the application of T) v Secretary of State

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and ss.113A and 113B in Part V of the Police Act 1997, 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.

T was given a warning, 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 was 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 is not justified as it is unlawful; there are no safeguards against arbitrary disclosure of personal information [108-109, 115].

Finally, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the interference is not necessary in a democratic society [50; 121; 158]. Lord Wilson echoed the Home Secretary's own words that the criminal records system should be scaled back to "common sense levels" [48].

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