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Keeping schtum on spent convictions R v Secretary of State

Criminal convictions which have become ‘spent’ (elapsed) do not usually need to be disclosed to prospective employers. However, there is an exception where the job being applied for involves working with children and vulnerable adults. In those cases all convictions and cautions, regardless of how old or how serious, must be brought to light.

However, the Supreme Court has now held that this requirement violates the right to private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The cases which led to this decision involved two people. T applied for a job at a football club and had had to disclose details of a warning he received for stealing two bicycles when he was 11. JB had been cautioned for stealing some false nails and because of that was rejected for a job as a care worker eight years later.

The Supreme Court held that the requirement for information like that to be disclosed was an unnecessary and  disproportionate interference with the right to a private life. The criminal records system must be scaled back to “common sense levels”, the court said.