Friday 17 November 2017

Thousands of UK minor offenders to have records wiped clean

Jamie Grierson

THOUSANDS of UK minor offenders are to have their criminal records wiped clean in a major overhaul of legislation.

Convictions resulting in a non-custodial sentence will be filtered from record checks after 11 years for adults and five and a half years for young offenders, the UK Home Office announced.

Cautions will be filtered from record checks by the UK Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau, after six years for adults and two years for young offenders.

Serious violent and sexual offences, offences with a jail sentence and some other offences will remain on checks. A conviction will only be filtered if there is no other offence on the individual's record.

The move comes after the UK Court of Appeal ruled that the law which requires people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.

The changes will affect thousands of volunteers and workers who apply for jobs that require a DBS check each year including teachers, doctors, nurses and care home workers.

It means that old and minor cautions and convictions will no longer appear on checks, which employers request for positions where the applicant will be working unsupervised with children and vulnerable adults.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, minister for criminal information, said: "The protection of children and vulnerable groups is of paramount importance to this government.

"Criminal records checks are an important tool for employers to use in making informed safeguarding decisions.

"This new system of checks strikes a balance between ensuring that children and vulnerable groups are protected and avoiding intrusion into people's lives."

The new checking system is due to be implemented within weeks following Parliamentary scrutiny, the Home Office said.

In 2011/12, more than four million people applied for a criminal records check.

Three judges last month said that the disclosure provisions in the Police Act 1997 and Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 were not compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to private and family life.

Campaigners had called for urgent reform of blanket provisions in the record check system, which mean employees must automatically disclose all convictions and cautions whether or not they are relevant to the job.

Liberty and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) intervened in the case of "T", a 21-year-old man who received warnings from Manchester Police when he was 11 years old in connection with two stolen bikes.

This information was disclosed on two occasions: when he applied for a part-time job at a local football club at the age of 17 and later when he applied for a university course in sports studies.

Press Association

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