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High Court ruling: recruiters must take extra care with criminal checks

Mon, 25 Jan 2016
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Recruiters need to take extra care how they approach criminal record checks due to uncertainties about a High Court ruling from last week, employment lawyers say.

On Friday, the High Court declared the current criminal record disclosure scheme used in England and Wales is incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which relates to the right to a private and family life, following a challenge brought by human rights organisation Liberty.

The High Court’s decision means those with more than one minor conviction should not now have to disclose them for every new job they apply for in sectors where checks are required, such as education, health and financial services.

Christopher Tutton, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, warns guidance on the ruling is urgently needed, as it is currently unclear what the definition of a ‘minor conviction’ is. 

“Given the present uncertainties, it will be practically difficult for recruiters to ensure that they are adequately vetting candidates, in a way which does not infringe the right to a private life,” he added.

According to Jacqueline McDermott, consultant solicitor at law firm Keystone Law, recruitment bosses will need to raise awareness among their staff about the ruling. 

"Recruitment agencies are going to need to make clear, as I’m sure they already do, what checks are going to be required if they are advertising for jobs in certain sectors where criminal records are required," she added.

With regards to serious offences, figures released by education recruiter TLTP Education (The London Teaching Pool) today show nearly 3,000 teachers in London with, between them, more than 8,000 criminal convictions, including soliciting as a prostitute, gross indecency and sexual assault, have applied for teaching jobs since the start of last year.

The figures follow a Freedom of Information request to government agency Disclosure and Barring Authority, which conducts criminal record checks. 

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