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Criminal records checks - changes to filter old/minor offences

05/04/2013
Legislative changes have been announced, intended to relax the process regarding the disclosure of old and minor cautions and convictions. This follows the Court of Appeal's recent decision in R (T
Legislative changes have been announced, intended to relax the process regarding the disclosure of old and minor cautions and convictions. This follows the Court of Appeal's recent decision in R (T and others) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and others (reported here), which confirmed that the current scheme requiring the blanket disclosure of convictions and cautions is incompatible with an individual’s right to respect for their private life.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was formed from the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority in December last year. The DBS is now responsible for undertaking criminal record checks and issuing criminal record certificates (DBS certificates). The DBS and Home Office have been developing a set of filtering rules that would remove certain old and minor convictions and cautions from a DBS certificate.

The filtering rules, which are now before Parliament for consideration, have been outlined as follows: 

Adults - convictions and cautions 

An adult conviction will be removed from a criminal record certificate if 11 years have elapsed since the date of conviction, it is the person’s only offence and it did not result in a custodial sentence. However, it will only be removed if it does not appear on the list of specified offences. If a person has committed more than one offence, details of all their convictions will always be included.

An adult caution will be removed after 6 years have elapsed since the date of the caution and if it does not appear on the list of specified offences.

Under 18s - convictions and cautions

A conviction received as a young person would become eligible for filtering after five and a half years, unless it is on the list of specified offences, a custodial sentence was received or the individual has more than one conviction.

A caution administered to a young person will not be disclosed if 2 years have elapsed since the date of issue, but only if it does not appear on the list of specified offences.

The changes will not come into force until after the legislation has completed its passage through Parliament. Until then, the DBS says it is "business as usual". As soon as the draft legislation is published, we should have a better idea of how the proposals will work in practice. Further updates will be provided on this blog.

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