A major overhaul of the criminal records regime could be required after three judges ruled that the current system breached human rights.
The Court of Appeal today said that a blanket requirement for some job seekers to supply details of all convictions - even minor offences that were spent and went back decades - was unlawful and amounted to a breach of the right to a private and family life.
The ruling was due to be made in December but in an unusual move was delayed because the Government raised concerns about the implications for the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) system. Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, said last week that the Government should “pull its finger out” to change the system.
Three people had challenged the decision to order full checks - designed to protect children and vulnerable adults - that had harmed their career prospects because of previous convictions.
One man, aged 21 and named only as ‘T’, had difficulties getting a part-time job at a local football club and for a sports studies course at university because of two warnings he received from police over two stolen bikes when he was aged 11.
A woman, JB, was unable to get a job in the care sector despite completing a six-week training course after a CRB check showed up a caution after she had walked out of Superdrug without paying for a packet of false nails nearly a decade earlier.
The woman, who was in her 40s at the time of the incident, said it was a genuine mistake but was effectively barred from working with vulnerable people when she claimed she would have made an “excellent carer”.
Both ‘T’ and ‘JB’ were successful in their legal challenge. A third person, who wanted to join the Armed Forces but was involved in a carjacking that left a man dead when she was 16, failed in her appeal.
Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for rights organisation Liberty, said: “This sensible judgment requires the Government to introduce a more nuanced system for disclosing this type of sensitive personal data to employers.
“For too long irrelevant and unreliable information provided under the blanket CRB system has blighted people’s lives. We hope that long overdue reforms - properly balancing the aim of public protection with privacy rights - will now be forthcoming.”