Supreme Court rebalances law on enhanced CRB disclosures

29 October 2009

Today the Supreme Court ruled that much greater consideration of the private lives of job applicants is required when enhanced CRB checks are made.

In addition, in cases of doubt, Chief Constables should allow the individual affected to make representations before the information is released to employers.

This judgment comes at a time where police are holding more information for longer and when an increasing proportion of the population is subject to employment vetting. The ruling will offer greater protection to individuals against the risk that their lives and careers will be ruined by unfounded or malicious allegations.

Anna Fairclough, Legal Officer for Liberty said:

“The Supreme Court has thankfully brought some wisdom and balance to the current frenzy around employment vetting. At a time when more people than ever before have been made subject to CRB checks, and the police seek to hold information forever, this judgment strikes a welcome note of caution and fairness.

Our children are better protected by a rational and balanced scheme than by one that disclosed gossip and rumour without safeguards.”

The judgment not only increases the threshold for disclosure, but it also provides important procedural protection for individuals who, in appropriate circumstances, should be given a chance to respond to allegations before they are disclosed to an employer.

 

Notes to Editors

1) Standard CRB disclosures reveal convictions, reprimands and warnings, including all that are spent. Enhanced CRB disclosures also disclose ‘any other information which in the opinion of the Chief Constable might be relevant to the position applied for and ought to be included in the certificate’. This can include information about others (family members, cohabitees) and non-criminal information. Prior to today’s judgment, case law said that the police were under a duty to disclose information if it might be relevant, even if it only might be true. The job applicant had no chance to see or respond to the information before it was disclosed to the employer.

2) Regulations under the Police Act 1997 came into force on 12th October which greatly extends the number of people required to have enhanced disclosures. Anyone covered by the ISA scheme – estimated to be about 11 million people – will now also be subject to enhanced CRB disclosures.