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Blanket CRB checks deemed incompatible with Human Rights Act

Last week the Court of Appeal concluded that "blanket" Criminal Record checks are incompatible with the Human Rights Act, in particular Article 8 which provides for a Right to Private and Family Life. The Government, in response, has announced its intention to appeal this finding within the given 28 days.

The above decision arose from a case involving a 21-year-old (known throughout the proceedings as "T"), who received warnings from Manchester Police when he was 11 years old in connection with two stolen bikes. When applying for a job at a local football club, aged 17, and later for a university place, he was forced to reveal the warnings under the Criminal Records Bureau ("CRB") rules, even though the warnings had no relevance to the job or position he was applying for.

Civil Liberties campaign group, Liberty, took up T’s case arguing that such blanket checks were incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. At the Court of Appeal, all 3 Judges hearing the case unanimously agreed with Liberty on this point.

So what does this case mean for employers? At the moment nothing has changed. The Law surrounding CRB checks is governed by the Police Act 1997 and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and this has, at the time of writing, not changed.

However, should the Government either concede defeat, or lose its Supreme Court appeal hearing, it would be required to amend the above Acts in order to comply with the Human Rights Act. Such changes would need to be introduced as soon as feasibly possible.

It is anticipated any such amendments to the Acts would include changes to the current system to enable the filtering out of minor or irrelevant convictions from CRB search results.

If/when such changes are announced, company policy and procedure on CRB checks will need to be checked and relayed to all staff. We will naturally keep our readers updated of further developments.


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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