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25.06.14

Supreme Court upholds decision on disclosing minor convictions

On 18 June 2014, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the case of  T & Anor, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor [2014] UKSC 35.  In essence, the Court has stated that minor convictions should be removed from criminal records because to disclose them is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case before the Court was in relation to a young man who had been forced to disclose warnings that he had received when he was a minor, aged 11, for the theft of two bicycles.   He had been asked to disclose these warnings when he applied for a part-time job aged 17 and also when he applied for a university place.  Although the convictions were spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the regime for enhanced CRB checks (now DBS checks) in respect of jobs that involve interaction with children and vulnerable groups meant that people were still forced to reveal spent convictions.

T had argued at the Court of Appeal that the obligation to disclose these old convictions interfered with his Article 8 right to respect for a private life.   That appeal was successful but the Government sought leave to appeal that decision so that the Supreme Court could consider the compatibility of disclosure requirements with human rights legislation.  The Government’s stance was that the measures in place under the current regime were justified to protect children and vulnerable groups.  Although the legislation had been amended in the aftermath of the Court of Appeal ruling, the Government had sought clarification from the highest court in the country because they believed that the Court of Appeal had erred in its decision.

The case had actually been heard by the Supreme Court on 9 December 2013 but it had delayed giving judgment until 18 June 2014.  It agreed with the Court of Appeal and upheld its ruling.


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