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Disclosure of 'Spent' Convictions

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Thanks to Georgia Hicks of Devereux Chambers for preparing this case summary

Is the obligatory disclosure of spent convictions for specified professions or persons working with children and vulnerable adults a necessary and proportionate interference with their Article 8 right to a private life?

No, held the Supreme Court in R (on the application of T) v Secretary of State

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and ss.113A and 113B in Part V of the Police Act 1997, certain professional bodies and employers are permitted to request Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates ("ECRCs"). ECRCs disclose every 'relevant matter' on the Police National Computer, revealing all spent convictions, no matter how historic or minor.

T was given a warning, aged 11, for stealing two bicycles. When T applied for a job at a football club this had to be disclosed as the role potentially involved interaction with children. JB was given a caution for shoplifting some false nails. The compulsory disclosure of this caution was the reason she was rejected for a job as a care worker eight years later. Neither party had any other criminal record.

The Supreme Court held this violated respect to private life under Article 8 ECHR. The majority of the Supreme Court found that the interference is not justified as it is unlawful; there are no safeguards against arbitrary disclosure of personal information [108-109, 115].

Finally, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the interference is not necessary in a democratic society [50; 121; 158]. Lord Wilson echoed the Home Secretary's own words that the criminal records system should be scaled back to "common sense levels" [48].