Job applicants can keep minor convictions to themselves

Job applicants with minor convictions in their past have won a landmark ruling against a rule requiring them to be disclosed to prospective employers.

The Court of Appeal (CoA) found that forcing applicants with more than one misdemeanour to disclose all their convictions, regardless of nature or time past, is a breach of human rights.

It means the applicant at the centre of the case, ‘P,’ has been vindicated after her career prospects were blighted since she stole a 99p book and a sandwich while ill 18 years ago.

It is also a boon for ‘A,’ a man convicted of minor thefts in the 1980s who is now a project manager, fearful that a CRB check will soon expose his offences -- at work and to his family.  

Many thousands of other people with old, minor criminal records will likewise benefit from the CoA ruling that the state’s criminal records scheme is “disproportionate”, says Unlock.

The support charity for job-seekers with convictions also said: “The [government’s current] system acts as an additional sentence that often runs for life. It desperately needs reform.

“These shortcomings have today been recognised by the Court of Appeal. We strongly urge the next government to take immediate steps to respond to today’s ruling”.

Unlock co-director Christopher Lacey believes it is “common sense” that while certain offences need to be disclosed to employers, people trying to find work should not be held back by “irrelevant” personal information.

In his judgment, Sir Brian Leveson clarifies that where a pattern of offending behaviour is demonstrated, it is “entirely legitimate to conclude that such information should be available to potential employers.”

But the judge decided that “the difficulty” is “it is not a necessary inference that two convictions do represent a pattern of offending behaviour,” as on “very many occasions, they will not.”

The court declined to suggest how the government’s scheme should be reformed, but Liberty recommends it should be made more flexible, so individual circumstances can be considered.

The human rights group, which took ‘P’ on as a client to support her case, said: “This would allow those with more than one conviction for [old and] less serious offences to move on.”

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