A Judge has called South Yorkshire Police’s approach to CRB disclosure “fundamentally flawed” after the force decided to disclose the fact that a teacher had been involved in legal proceedings, despite the fact that the individual was not convicted of an offence.
The ‘old’ CRB system has seen lives ruined and this case is a very clear example of over reliance on a flawed system. After being found not guilty, it is abhorrent that South Yorkshire Police took the legal system into their own hands and used CRB disclosure as a means of issuing their own punishment. There must clearly be a system that ensures children and vulnerable adults are protected, however this must be balanced against unjust intrusion into people’s lives. If something cannot be proven in court then it is not right for the police to disclose details that imply guilt.
The case involves a former teacher, found not guilty of sexually molesting pupils, who has taken South Yorkshire Police to court as they continued to insist on listing the allegations on his enhanced criminal record certificate, which employers can see – effectively destroying his career in the classroom.
A High Court judge, Mr Justice Coulson has been scathing of South Yorkshire Police’s actions, stating that the force’s ‘fundamentally flawed’ approach was rooted in the belief of officers that the man was ‘fortunate to be acquitted’. Judge Coulson has since ordered South Yorkshire’s Chief Constable David Crompton to rethink the decision to disclose details of the court case, ruling that the teacher’s treatment had been ‘disproportionate’ and his career blighted.
It has been reported that the case goes back to 2005 when the teacher was working at a Sheffield school and was accused by four girls of ‘tapping’ their bottoms. Judge Coulson said there were concerns at the time the schoolgirls had colluded against the teacher and acted together to avenge a boy who had been expelled. The teacher denied any wrongdoing and a Sheffield Crown Court jury acquitted him of indecent assault and sexual activity with a child.
As well as being acquitted in a court of law, the case was investigated by the Department of Children, Schools and Families, as well as the General Teaching Council, both of whom decided to take no action. However, despite this South Yorkshire Police decided that it would disclose material relating to the trial on his criminal record certificate, leading to him losing volunteer posts outside work, and he was also later sacked from his job.
The police should be the first to understand that we have a legal system for a reason and any move that allows a Chief Constable to act as judge, jury and prosecution because they do not like the outcome of a court case should not be allowed in a society that is based on the rule of law. The actions by South Yorkshire Police send out a clear and dangerous message and we call on the force to listen very carefully to the comments made by Judge Coulson and ensure that this individual can get on with the rest of his life.