Disclosure of criminal convictions

10 February 2016

The High Court has found fault with the system of criminal records checks in England and Wales, saying that it’s incompatible with the right to privacy and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

R (P and A) v Secretary of State for Justice

The High Court has found fault with the system of criminal records checks in England and Wales, saying that it’s incompatible with the right to privacy and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under the current scheme, two or more convictions have to be disclosed, whatever the circumstances. This won’t always be proportionate. The offences might have happened a long time ago and might have been very minor, but if there’s more than one conviction, these must be disclosed when applying for certain jobs – indefinitely. And this can lead to people being penalised thoughout their lives for mistakes they made when they were younger.

Two people brought a case arguing that point. One, who wanted to work as a teaching assistant, said that having to disclose details of her conviction for stealing a 99p book in 1999 (while suffering from a mental illness), and a second conviction for not attending court, was disproportionate and breached her privacy. Another claimant had been convicted of two minor crimes in 1981 and 1982. He argued that he shouldn’t have to disclose those convictions years later. They won.

The Home Office might appeal, so watch this space.


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