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“Legal Minds Agree” that CRB is a breach of human rights

iStock_000016822421MediumIn a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the law which requires people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.

In this case, a 21 year old man wanted cautions to be removed from his criminal record. His crime, being accused of stealing two bicycles at aged 11. Information about the cautions had been flagged up when applying 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.

An urgent reform of the Criminal Records Bureau is required. This case highlights how the Coalition’s reforms have not gone far enough and the CRB system continues to lead to absurd results in too many cases, including thousands of people being wrongly branded criminals.

The Home Office’s has described the ruling as being ‘disappointing’ and that ‘the protection of children and vulnerable groups must not be compromised’. In this instance the little boys actions were clearly stupid and probably very naïve. However, it is simply disproportionate that an error of judgement made as a child should affect the jobs you apply for as an adult.

In another case, Simon Western, the Falklands veteran, had to pull out of the police and crime commissioner elections because he had received a fine for being a passenger in a stolen car at aged 14. Western warned that “so many good people” were being written off and he is pleased that “legal minds agree”.

The CRB system needs reforming not only due to the disclosure process but also due to the number of errors that are made. We also recently revealed the scale in the criminal record check system highlighting that nearly 12,000 people over the past five years had been wrongly branded as criminals or had had irrelevant or inaccurate information disclosed during criminal record checks.

It has been argued that it is for the employer to make a sensible judgement about whether to hire someone when they receive the CRB check on an employee. However, what we have seen is that employers, especially in the public sector, have become so worried that they will be held responsible for their employees’ actions that they are accepting the absolute nature of the CRB.

To highlight the disproportionate nature of the system we can simply look to other countries in Europe, where laws prevent employers being told about spent or minor convictions. One example being in the Netherlands, where fines of 100 euros or less given for minor crimes are not treated as criminal convictions for the purposes of a CRB check,

As the Magistrates Association has warned, the use of cautions is spiralling out of control, denying victims punishment where it is warranted and ruining the careers of people who have committed trivial indiscretions. It is absolutely right that children and vulnerable people are kept safe, however if a person has been deemed to be a danger to the public by the police they should have received a criminal conviction rather than a caution.

The system of cautions and the system of criminal record checks need fundamental reform, starting with a legal right for minor offences to be wiped from police records after a reasonable period of time. The judges involved in the caser have now said that it is up to Parliament to devise a ‘proportionate’ scheme. Reforms should start with a legal right for minor offences to be wiped from police records after a reasonable period of time.

Posted on by Emma Carr Posted in CRB check, Human Rights Act, Legal Action, Privacy

24 Responses to “Legal Minds Agree” that CRB is a breach of human rights

  1. Pingback: Links 30/1/2013: Android Market Share at 70% | Techrights

  2. rottweiller11

    i have a problem with crb the chief constable added his own spin on my crb check and took it upon himself to add that i had shot someone in the head during an incident,this w@@@@@ has prevented me from obtaining employment with the probation service since 2008, i did complain to him and the information commissioner but the onus was left with me to proove otherwise i would like to fight it

    • John Name

      Have you considered suing the Chief Constable for defamation/libel?

  3. Mr ex offender

    I have a very petty crb record however, it seems to impede my chances of employment after 22 years of staying out of trouble, i’d like to play on a level playing field with the rest of Europe, but in uk we have a system that’s only immigrant friendly, No one can read what people from abroad have done wrong during in their childhood.In many of these places , they don’t have a police force let alone a crb system . typical Britain , a mass cock up ! organised by over paid twerps ! how many people have we allowed into Britain so far,that we know nothing about ? no one knows !!!

    • Jimbomcg

      you’re absolutely right! trouble is although grossly unfair and Draconian measures can be introduce at the stroke of a pen it is a long uphill struggle to modify or repeal them in a police state like the UK.

  4. maria

    I have a caution for common assaul which was given to me when I defended myself after an umber of domestic violence incidents having this caution has stopped me from furthering or getting another job in the care industry not only has it stopped me working it has kept me still within the graps of the person who has not only hit ad beaten and hospitised me as I rely on them now financially to support me and my yougest child wh is still at scool I have to work 60 plus hours a week as a care assistant but I cannot leave and work for a new employer because of my caution. This is so upsettig to think I am reagede as very good careing hard working employee but can not leave my current employer as I will not be employed elsewhere ( I know this as have tried and was accepted until crb check came back, I was enformed by police it lasts 5 years which is not true) and most of all I still am relying on the person who put me in this position as I cannot afford to cease contact. This is totally reuning mine and my kids life.

    • mr very unhappy

      i fully understand , i am looking for work currently, I too have 2 kids . I have a few petty offences from when i was a youngster, making these offences available to employers, puts us at an instant disadvantage.because of peados, people that abuse the elderly & the weak. Terrorism has added to the problem with more security checks.
      Things are bad enough here,with the masses of people from around the world who have come to England , that we know nothing at all about. i’d like to compete on a level field with them . I’m sure there are many many people , just like us :( !

    • Alastair McGowan

      Discrimination clear and simple. Go to citizens adice, get some advice, they may say get a solicitor, and ask for help from other organisations, do it. Get the law on your side, get your own conviction put in context and the explanation written down so it can be presented to an employer. If an employer, after reading the full explanation, refuses to employ you based on that then go to a solicitor, get the help, sue them, there is now case law to say that they are not within their rights to do so. Sue them for a lot of money and change your life circumstances.

  5. Alastair McGowan

    The idea that disclosure to an employer/university and their adjudication on whether an offence or caution is predictive of probability of the person causing harm is some valid form of assessment of risk is laughable. The police may (most likely do not) have the skills and statistical base to use criminal records as a prediction of future behaviour, but this was not what criminal records were originally intended for. The record is only valid in general relationships as an incremental assessment of past behaviour, not future behaviour. Its use for prediction of future behaviour has never been tested and the evidence never published for all crime types. A police officer may have access to such data but an employer does not. There may or may not be any predictive relationship between stealing a bicycle at age 11 and whatever the university believe would be a risk of studying sport science. If any assessment is made it should be by the police and if appealed against should be challengable against publicly available evidence in a court

    • Alastair McGowan

      My gobblegook above is extermely overcompressed. Let me expand with an example: if a person has an offence of rape against a child on their record and there is a 1:10 statistical chance they will repeat that offence then you would justifiably never them near children, ever.
      However, if the chance of them going on to rape an adult is let’s say (for the sake of the argument) 1:10,000 and the same as the average population, (or again for the sake of argument, LESS than the general population, and without any evidence can I say maybe this is possible?) then you would not have grounds to prevent them working with vulnerable adults, or in further education, and so on. If the risk were less then you would be obliged to favour them for the job – and why not, they would be a better candidate since the risk of abuse would be less!
      The problem is that employers/universities are being asked to make these decisions on a binary basis selective without all the data such as probabilities of offending predicted by earlier offending, and then cross-tabulated based on type of offending. The data is just not being collected, or is at best a set of assumptions traded implicitly among police officers. Worse still they are being asked to make such judgements based on records of ‘police caution’ and possibly even hearsay ‘evidence’. What could work well as an evidence-based assessment is really a catch-all safety net which allows that if there is so much as a whiff that someone may have broken a law then they are not to be trusted. This is, as the Court of Appeal has ajudged, a breach of human rights.
      It is a form of deep discrimination that sweeps up millions in order to stop thousands from being put at risk. A more evidence based approach using statistics would at least narrow this safety net considerably down to risk based on evidence and permit better prediction of harm (and safety).
      I speak as someone who was convicted at age 17 of a traffic offence (and 2 decades before I could Google for some information and avoid it) of ‘using a tax disc fraudulently’ because I niaively assumed that when I put a new frame on my motorbike and there was no option on the registration form to change the chassis number that I did not have to do anything with the DVLA. I had this brought up at job interviews several times because they were concerned about the word ‘fraud’. Just the word fraud, combined with my stumbling and shamed attempts to explain that the 17 year old me ‘really was that stupid to make rapid assumptions in my haste to get back on the road’ convinced them that I may well be a fraudster in the making, if not then just more stupid than my CV told. It would probably have been enough to damage my job prospects, if as there is these days, intense competition for jobs. But I am just speculating ;-)
      It concerns me that employers make fast assumptions and any whiff of wrongdoing leads to mass discrimination. Especially (from my own perspective) against people who like me often come into contact with the law because we are either a bit dim and too quick, over-assertive of our rights, or not easily able to speak up for themselves and accept cautions as an easy way out, or attend demonstrations, or get into arguments with bosses, and generally try to assert ourselves towards authority.
      People being overlooked in job selection because false assumptions are being made about their positive and negative attributes – this is a topic in Personnel Selection and Appraisal research which shows consistently that employers make consistently bad decisions based on false assumptions and discard the evidence in favour of biases.
      I suggest that assessments of risk should be carried out by an agency that transparently bases its conclusions and recommendations to an employer on statistical data that has predictive validity. With that we have a minimisation of discrimination AND an empirical tool with which to protect people from harm. At present we have a system that is not being monitored for efficacy (and no idea how well if indeed it does diminish harm – do people go underground choosing unregulated areas of work and cause more harm?), it discriminates against people, and breaches human rights of employees and potentially of people at risk too. If employers can make wild assumptions then that last statement should be taken with equal validity?

  6. Mr Very Unhappy

    I’ve been job hunting for a while now. i have a few petty convictions from when i were a lad.

    In the old days i used to walk around the job center & all the available jobs would be displayed on a board, ready to quickly find a suitable job. Now i find myself trolling though every job on a computer on various sites, in my field only to find that the job requires a enhanced crb or a standard crb check. ive spent hours & hours looking.

    As we are running this kind of system. I’ve decided to complain to the job center , I’d like to have a crb section & non crb section .

    We have Age discrimination , sex , Religion, ect ect ,

    I’m fit, active and actively seeing employment with 2 children to provide for. This is becoming the biggest obstacle so far, as i’m reluctant to disclose any of my personal data to a third party, and cant stand the thought of being humiliated during a job interview by someone i don’t know.

    The Government seem all tied up with gay marriage, at the moment, but i’m sure if enough people complain they might get around to looking into it .

  7. henrythedog

    i was a coach for a kids rugby team . i disclosed a caution. the dbs certificate was sent to me showing the caution.i was then told by the RFU i was required to provide as much detail as possible to assess the risk of allowing me to work with children . as the caution had absolutley nothing to do with children i sent them an email saying as much( and resigning as a coach). i have 3 kids have played the game for 35 years completed training corses, only ever had any involvment with the police once(i only excepted a caution because i thought i was the easyest thing to do) and now am being assumed to be a risk to children because i will not lay my life bare to them , its none of there bussiness! . if this is the way they treat volenters who have been part of an orginisation for 3 decades then they can get stuffed its their loss . I cant belive this is what the CRB / DBS disclosure is for . Surley they cant think that even the smallest crime against a child would be delt with by a police caution

  8. Jacob

    hi
    it was in 2006 wen i was looking for a job but couldn t find any … unfortunately , a friend suggested that i could post those cards of female escorts in phone booths for some quids in cash… it was safe for few times but i was caught and was given a caution.
    now this caution is haunting me everywhere i go , and as i was reading in the comments above, it is ruining everyone s life… the caution was stating that was (advertising for prostitution . Honestly i was NOT aware of the gravity of a caution on my CRB . and i am still threatened now every time i am looking for a job … I am willing to try my chances and apply for a private hire licence to be a cab driver , but i saw on their website that a CRB check will dismiss anyone with a caution etc.. I feel gutted and my life is on hold . Does this system wants you to be ruined rather than help you improve yourself ? am i being encouraged to claim benefits instead of working and contributing with my tax for the good of this country ??? all i want is to get my licence and be an active person in this society rather than be unemployed and ask for their help of 70 pounds a week. why should i feel humiliated for a minor mistake that i have done many years ago ? i hope the government will be aware of this and will do something about it. and thank you everyone for all the interesting ideas and thoughts we shared for this subject. I am sure there are a lot suffering like me .. maybe we ll need to demonstrate and go to the street as a last resort to draw their attention to us.

  9. Discriminated Against

    CRB disclosure should only be applied if it directly applies to the job e.g. if you have robbed a bank, should should have to disclose if you want to apply for a job in a bank; if you have caused injury through dangerous driving, you should have to disclose if you are applying for a job as a taxi driver; if you are working with children, you should have to declare all offences against children etc etc. If you have a convition 30 years ago for breaching the peace at a football match, you shouldn’t have to disclose it for a job working at a bank, taxi driving or working with kids etc etc. To me, surely this is common sense?

  10. Youthlink (England & Wales)

    The church-based youth group Youthlink is aware of a young man whose career has been wrecked after receiving a PND for giving a V sign to a CCTV camera and another who received similar for urinating very privately behind some bushes on a river bank while fishing. These ‘offences’ are disclosed on their CRBs. What on earth has this to do with child-protection?

  11. psychologist

    I am a middle aged psychologist. I have worked my whole life and because of a sandwich I stole in a moment in of madness from M&S I can no longer change jobs or be promoted. My career has been ruined and at times I feel suicidal. I would never steal a sandwich again, that I swear. I was given a conditional discharge in 2010 and never thought it was going to affect my career that way it has. I have been named employee of the year in my Trust, I constantly get the best feedback from vulnerable adults and their families, I have two University degrees and am passionate about my job. This is truly a senseless law and I just don’t know what to do.

  12. Pete w

    My answer to all your Problems is to sign on for unemployment. You can’t get a job because of the CRB checks for something you did when you where a kid or 10,20,30 years ago. When you claim benefits and you show you are actively looking for work.they can’t refuse you. The government is responsible for the mess. If you start a rally or demonstration and march to London. Maybe the government will listen. You Did the crime so you did the time, you should not be branded for the rest of your life. They are saying You can’t be bad and turn good , yet people can be good and turn bad. All the government, police officers, who have been trusted with these positions who have turned bad later on in life. Human rights is a way to go. Or all the millions of people who this is affecting should vote for a party who will fight for this change, someone who never gets any votes.People have the power to change government. Come on people are you not sick off voting for a politician only to see them do nothing like the thousands before them.they don’t give a crap about you. They wrecked this country, immigration,debt , taxes. If anyone had the Balls to stand up, things would change. If not go to work if you have a job, piss all your money away at the weekend, sit on the couch and watch your favorite tv show. Just my pennies worth. Ps sorry about the language.

  13. Betty

    Ple can the government do some thing about all this complain.
    Do the government want us to work or go on benefits.
    If little and stupid mistakes we do sometimes cost us not
    To work , because of DBS/CRB check than that’s very sad.
    For me the government and the polices is making people
    Lady and not encouraging us at all. We need to work please Mr government … So please do something urgent .

  14. Wayne Rutter

    Dbs are nothing bit a scam to line the pockets of the corrupt system
    I havr struggled to get a job since 2008 because of a demestic the courts fail yo note this during a cinvition I wad setup to fail no evidence was proven to an offence cheshire polive chief decided to put on my report which has wrecked my chances of employment I continued. To rxplain the corruotion most know what this idiot has put on my file incorrectly and I want it removed I have apolied to the european courts to exolsin this idiots acyions that I hope to next provide him eith a lein and sue him personallu once the courts have dealt eitj this for comornsation for his actions sinse. 2008 I will continue until his career is ruined too

  15. Wayne

    Funny is it? If id have know the three of you below my comment were mature enough to pass by tje spelling mistakes due to problems with a mobile keyboard you would be worth the time and if mr intellligent id lost for words try facebook and learn! Untill either of you are mature enough to understand law then commemt on my statements
    You fuckin muppets

  16. Not amused

    I have never had a job and been trying to get employment paid and voluntary for 17 years now, got kicked out of college for wrongly been accused of something that never even happened because the people that made the accusations knew or had a family member working with police and saw an opportunity to further bully and make something out of nothing just because they can. I tried to appeal against it and was told that the officer would not do such a thing as there job would be at risk if they did. I even had a solicitor to look into how I could clear my name and I was told the only way I could do this was to take it to the high courts and would cost ME over 30 grand, I barely had 2 pennies to rub together. how the hell do police get away with this ? surely this is slander and needs to be dealt with somehow. Bullying has ruined my and my kids lives, I am a victim of unemployment and looks like I always will be.

  17. John Name

    What?

  18. Alastair McGowan

    Fantastic, a comment even more convoluted than my own one! Well done!

  19. mr very unhappy

    lol

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