When an employer runs a check on me will they be able to see any old minor convictions?

Potential Employers and Criminal Record Bureau Checks

Often it will be the case that potential employers will wish to do as thorough background check on an individual as is reasonably possible before they decide to employ them. In many contexts this will include the employer wishing to do a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check on that individual to see whether they have any criminal convictions.

Furthermore there will often be a disclaimer as part of the application process for that individual to state that they do not have any prior convictions.

Checks such as this are extremely important in certain jobs which may involve work with children but often are used just as good practice in other industries.

What would be the case if I have minor convictions from a long time ago?

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 previous convictions can become spent after a certain period of time has elapsed. Under the act it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual due to a spent conviction.

The purpose of the act is to help people with few or minor convictions and is not intended to help people with serious convictions.

After how much time will a conviction become spent?

The time period to decipher when a conviction becomes spent depends upon the nature of the conviction – this is detailed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Do I need to disclose any spent convictions when applying for a job?

You do not need to disclose spent convictions when applying for most jobs; however, there are certain jobs which require all convictions including spent convictions to be disclosed on application.

Will an employer be able to view any old minor convictions when running a CRB check?

The initial position in relation to this was viewed to be that employers would not be able to access information on old minor convictions when running a CRB check as under the Data Protection Act 1998 the police force would be infringing several of the data protection principles specified by the Act in retaining data relating to old minor convictions.

However, following a recent Court of Appeal decision this is no longer the case.

What was the subject matter of this decision?

The Information Commissioner initially received complaints from five different people that various police forces were retaining information that related to old minor convictions which they had been the subject matter of.

Four of the complaints arose from the convictions being disclosed as part of a CRB check and the other arose due to the individual requesting to know what information about her was being held by the police.

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For more information on:

  • What action did the Information Commissioner take?
  • What did the Court of Appeal say on the matter?
  • What was the final decision of the Court?
  • What purpose did the police provide to the Information Commissioner when registering?
  • What does this decision mean?