Letter: Access to criminal records

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The Independent Online
Sir: Michael Howard's plans to give employers wider access to job applicants' criminal records ("Firms to access criminal files", 19 June) will breach their right to privacy and could lead to more cases of re-offending.

Although it is right that those who are seeking to employ people to work with children or vulnerable people should have access to the criminal records of job applicants, it is clearly not right for all employers to have access to all criminal records.

These would include very minor convictions, where there is no connection between what people have done in the past and the job being applied for. It would be a gross violation of their right to privacy and would seriously damage their chance to build a new life after having served a sentence.

Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties, is also concerned that some employers will not only have access to the details of convictions but to other information - even acquittals. Suspicion, tittle tattle and rumour should never be the basis for refusing employment.

JOHN WADHAM

Director

Liberty (National Council

for Civil Liberties)

London SE1

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