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Employee convictions law is human rights breach

Employee convictions law is human rights breach

The Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that a law which requires people to disclose all previous convictions to their employers is a breach of human rights.

Granted by three judges headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, the declaration of incompatibility was hailed as a common sense victory by civil liberties campaigners.

However, the Home Office said: “The protection of vulnerable groups and children must not be compromised. We are disappointed by this judgement and are seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Neither the disclosure provisions of the Police Act 1997, nor those of an order made according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, were compatible with Article 8 which relates to private and family life. The judges added that it would be for Parliament to devise a “proportionate” scheme.

Urgent reform had been called for by campaigners, lobbying for changes of blanket provisions in the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) system which requires employees by law to automatically disclose all cautions and convictions whether or not they are relevant to the job.

Chief legal officer at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), John Wadham, said:

“If the police and other bodies can pass on information without our knowledge it will have serious implications for our lives and careers. Many of us have been in minor trouble with the law as children, which we regret at the time but we would not expect it to impact on getting a job in later life.

“The ruling is important as it establishes how the authorities deal with confidential information that they hold and how it could have a negative impact on people’s lives. The ruling also indicates the seriousness of the contravention of human rights obligations in this case, which must now be corrected by Parliament without delay.”

Joanne Gibbons, Partner in IBB’s Criminal Defence team comments:

“As a result of the recent court of appeal case of “T”, blanket criminal record checks have been deemed not compatible with a key aspect of the Human Rights Act. This will come as a boost to those with old minor convictions who have been blighted in their efforts to secure work in this dismal climate. Recent figures suggest that more than 13,000 people have fallen foul of CRB checks. Whilst the government has 28 days in which to review its position and appeal, this will act as a wake up call to Ministers who should have been live to the issue a long time ago.”

We have one of the leading teams of criminal law specialists in West London and the South East. If you are facing a serious criminal charge, contact a member of the IBB’s Criminal Defence team: call us on 03456 381381 (or 24-hour emergency line 0330 999 4999) or email criminaldefence@ibblaw.co.uk.