Criminal record disclosure scheme infringes human rights, Supreme Court rules

Failed government appeals could lead to ‘crucial’ system reform preventing workers being ‘unnecessarily anchored to their past’ 

The way workers’ criminal records are disclosed to employers infringes their human rights, the Supreme Court has ruled.

In particular, the court rejected as “disproportionate” the blanket rules requiring automatic disclosure of all convictions where a person has more than one, and the requirement that some childhood cautions be disclosed indefinitely.

Experts have said the ruling could affect thousands of people who have old or minor criminal records.

The landmark judgment upholds previous rulings by the High Court (2016) and the Court of Appeal (2017) that the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) scheme was “not in accordance with the law”, since it breached the right to a private life, stipulated by article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Judges rejected government appeals over three cases brought against the Home Office in which the claimants argued the DBS system was hindering their rehabilitation.