Caution as a teen ruins police dream.
Byline: strand news service firstname.lastname@example.org
A BRIGHT graduate's dream of joining the police was destroyed - because she'd been told off for shoplifting from Primark when she was just 13.
And now top judges have slammed a police recruitment policy that "irrationally" led to rejection of the job application from the woman, who is now in her 20s.
She was well qualified for a job with South Wales Police, but the "peremptory" rejection had plunged her into clinical depression.
She and teenage friends had been caught stealing a PS20 sarong from Primark in 2007, Mr Justice Green told the High Court in London.
She was reprimanded by police and, "acting with candour", she disclosed that when she went for a job with the force in 2015.
The graduate hoped that a job as a service support officer would eventually lead to her achieving her dream of becoming a constable. But her application failed because of the reprimand issued in her teens and her bid to have it deleted from her record was also later rejected.
The judge said she was "well qualified for a career in the police" and the rejection of her job application made no rational sense.
Relying on the reprimand as a reason for refusing to employ her seriously violated her human rights, he added.
It was her sole brush with the law in an otherwise blameless life and giving her a job could not conceivably have put the public at risk.
The judge added: "Her career path and aspirations have been blocked. She has suffered clinical depression in consequence."
Sitting with Lord Justice Fulford, he added: "We see no connection between her reprimand and a risk of harm to public interest factors."
On the contrary, the refusal to employ her caused "real, tangible harm" to the objective of rehabilitating offenders.
"Employing her would create no material risk of undermining the integrity of criminal investigations that she was involved with," he added.
"Public confidence would not be undermined by her employment.
"In our view, the public would be troubled if her reprimand was used to disqualify a young woman who... seems well qualified for a career in the police."
Her shoplifting offence was at "the very lowest level of seriousness" and no proper balance had been struck when rejecting he job application.
"We can see no sensible or rational basis upon which the reprimand could be relevant to her preferred employment," said the judge.
"Yet, the police still used that reprimand peremptorily to refuse her job application."
Her rejection meant that virtually anyone with "a low level historical reprimand" on their record would be disqualified from joining the police.
The judge said the woman's main concern was the fact that she was compelled to disclose the reprimand in the first place.
She felt that would always put her "at risk, in the real world, of discriminatory and unlawful treatment" for something she did when she was 13.
Mr Justice Green said that, in the light of the court's decision, new police recruitment vetting procedures had been approved by the Home Secretary and were due to be laid before Parliament imminently.
A 3D image of an organoid