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'Unfair disclosure' challenges spark concerns on CRB checks.

Byline: Alan Weston

A LIVERPOOL law firm has raised concerns over the consistency of information released under Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks.

It followed a number of cases in which decisions were found to be unfair when challenged.

CRB checks were introduced to help employers make safer recruitment decisions, particularly for posts involving contact with children or vulnerable adults, by revealing information about relevant past convictions. The Supreme Court recently considered the case of a teaching assistant who was dismissed by her agency when a CRB check disclosed an alleged lack of ability to provide adequate care for her son. The court decided the disclosure regime had to comply with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which safeguards a person's right to a private and family life. The ruling established new guidelines for the assessment of relevant information and the fair treatment of applicants.

All applicants should now have the chance to see and comment on the intended disclosure before it is released to their potential employer.

Applicants may now argue the disclosure is not relevant to the post or it is so old, vague, misleading or inappropriate that it should not be disclosed at all.

If an inappropriate disclosure is made, applicants have the right to challenge the quality of the information with the CRB or to challenge the disclosure in the High Court.

Both steps must be taken within three months of the date of the CRB Certificate. If disclosure harms a person's reputation, personal feelings or causes them to lose earnings - such as a job or opportunity for promotion - then they may seek compensation.

Ian Cohen, director of Goodmans Law, in Liverpool, said: "CRB checks are a vital safeguard but without consistent guidelines and the ability for applicants to respond to information which is held and may be disclosed, there is a risk that people will be treated unfairly.

"If people's lives are affected by what they believe is an unfair or inappropriate CRB disclosure, they should seek legal advice."

Initial Home Office guidelines for the disclosure of information to potential employers were withdrawn last year.

Chief police officers must now use their discretion to identify information which "might be relevant" to the purpose of the request and "ought to be included in the certificate".


Ian Cohen: Risk of unfairness
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 2, 2011
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