We have long called for changes to the CRB system having seen lives ruined by over reliance on a flawed system. Following from a Court of Appeal ruling in January, this week the Home Office announced a shakeup of the CRB system which will see a much more common sense approach to a system that was ruining people’s lives.
The Home Office announced that the changes, which are due to become law in the next few weeks, would “ensure a balance between ensuring that children and vulnerable groups are protected and avoiding intrusion into people’s lives.”
As detailed below, the rumours of burglars having their conviction erased from the checks will only happen (if the offence is commented when over the age of 18) if 11 years has elapsed since the date of conviction, and it the person’s only offence and if it did not result in a custodial sentence.
The changes following the landmark ruling in which the Court of Appeal found that the law which requires people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers was a breach of human rights. In that case, a 21 year old man wanted cautions removed from his criminal record, his crime was being accused of stealing two bicycles 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 alter when he applied for a university course in sports studies.
It is plainly ridiculous that a teenage indiscretion is able to cause havoc for decades, ruining careers and stopping good people being hired for a job they are more than capable of doing without any risk to anyone. If somebody has committed a crime then they should be charged and have their case heard by a judge, rather than the police short circuiting the justice system by using cautions, which subsequently show up on a criminal records check, as a means of punishment
The new system, named the ‘Disclosure and Barring Service’ will see convictions being removed from the criminal record certificate if:
For those 18 or over at the time of the offence:
- 11 years have elapsed since the date of conviction; and
- It is the person’s only offence, and
- It did not result in a custodial sentence
Even then, it will only be removed if it does not appear on the list of offences relevant to safeguarding. An adult caution will be removed after 6 years have elapsed since the date of the caution – and if it does not appear on the list of offences relevant to safeguarding.
For those under 18 at the time of the offence:
- The same rules apply as for adult convictions, except that the elapsed time period is 5.5 years
- The same rules apply as for adult convictions, except that the elapsed time period is 2 years.
The Government is to be applauded for another step towards curbing the culture of safety by database still lingering across Whitehall. The Home Office have made it very clear that these changes will not apply to serious crimes, for example sexual offences and any which commanded a term in prison “regardless of their nature will not be subject to change and will remain on checks.”
The system of cautions and the sytem of criminal records checks needed fundamental reform, and it is right that it has started with a legal right for minor offences to be wiped from police records after a reasonable period of time. The judges in the Court of Appeal case made it clear to Parliament that it was time to devise a ‘proportionate’ scheme and it is absolutely right that the Home Office have taken appropriate action.