Government to introduce new system of criminal records checks

The Government has announced that it is introducing legislation to implement a new system for criminal records checks to allow some old and minor offences to be filtered out. 

Under the proposals, the new system will filter certain old and minor offences from checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), formerly the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). The Government's aim is to "strike a balance between ensuring that children and vulnerable groups are protected and avoiding intrusion into people's lives". The new system is due to be implemented within one week of parliamentary scrutiny. 

The announcement follows the Court of Appeal decision in R (on the application of T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and others [2013] EWCA Civ 25 CA, where the court held that the current system of blanket checks is not compatible with art.8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The three test cases included one in which a job applicant was obliged to disclose police cautions that he had received when he was 11 years old after stealing two bicycles. The Court of Appeal held that "requiring the disclosure of all convictions and cautions relating to recordable offences is disproportionate to that legitimate aim". 

Under the proposals, the new system will filter out non-custodial offences from record checks after 11 years for adults and five and a half years for young offenders. However, all serious violent and sexual offences, offences with a custodial sentence and multiple offences regardless of their nature will remain on criminal records checks. Adult cautions will be removed after six years and young offender cautions will be removed after two years, provided the cautions do not appear on the list of specified offences, which includes violent and sexual offences. 


The XpertHR quick reference section pulls together in one place key employment law requirements, including Criminal record checks, Jobs where it is lawful to ask for details of spent convictions and Rehabilitation periods

The Job applicants with convictions section of the XpertHR employment law manual explains the current law on employers' obligations in relation to criminal record checks and the protection of children and vulnerable adults.