The High Court has decided that the Government’s criminal records disclosure scheme is ‘incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act’, as a result of claims brought by two people whose careers were blighted by having to disclose minor convictions to employers. Jacob Tas, Nacro’s Chief Executive, said:
“The High Court judgement is a welcome step forward for the millions of people in the UK who have a criminal record for minor offences.
“However, it highlights that only modest progress had been made since changes to the disclosure scheme were introduced in May 2013. And, despite welcome moves by Government to change the Exceptions Order, our criminal record regime still fails to provide the right balance between the need to protect vulnerable people and the disclosure requirements for certain regulated professions, while allowing people to move on from past mistakes.
“We agree with the comments of Lord Justice McCombe who said that, ‘it was not justifiable or necessary for any individual to have minor offences disclosed indefinitely, from many years ago merely because there is more than one minor offence.’
“The current arbitrary system results in too many skilled, qualified, experienced applicants facing long-lasting damage to their employment prospects for minor mistakes they have made in their past. Too often we see cases where individuals who were in a playground fight or caught shoplifting as a child, struggling to pursue a career in nursing or social work, for example, simply because their offence will show up on an enhanced check.
“At a time when education and business leaders warn that the UK faces a chronic skills shortage, we need to do everything possible to remove unnecessary barriers to employment faced by ex-offenders. Only in this way can they can provide for their families, pay taxes and contribute positively to society.
“We hope that the lessons learnt from this ruling will lead to a common sense approach and address other faults in the current disclosure system. This includes continued requests for unlawful DBS checks and the impact of inconsistent police recording practices on the disclosure of convictions that do not qualify for filtering.”
A copy of the High Court Judgement can be found here.