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Recruitment and selection: key differences in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Updating authors: Lynda Macdonald, Rob Davies and Annabel Mace, consultant editor (Scotland): Gillian MacLellan, consultant editor (Northern Ireland): Andrew Spratt

Future developments

Rehabilitation of offenders (Scotland): From 10 March 2014, the rehabilitation periods set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 were reduced in England and Wales. They were not reduced in Scotland (see Rehabilitation periods). In its Programme for Scotland 2017-2018, which it published on 5 September 2017, the Scottish Government announced its intention to introduce a Management of Offenders Bill, which will "reduce the length of time for which many people will be required to self-disclose previous offending behaviour" and "make the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 more accessible for individuals and employers using the legislation".

This follows the Scottish Government's 2015 consultation on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and its proposal to increase the length of the sentence of imprisonment beyond which prior convictions must always be disclosed, from 30 months to 48 months, and to make changes to rehabilitation periods in Scotland. On 22 December 2015, the Scottish Government published Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974: consultation analysis report. However, it has not yet published its own response to the consultation.

Disclosure checks: In P (AP) v The Scottish Ministers [2017] CSOH 33 CS, the Court of Session considered the filtering process and automatic disclosure, under the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme (see Filtering of disclosure checks), of conviction information about an offence committed 27 years earlier when the claimant was a child. It held that automatic disclosure of the conviction was an unlawful and unjustifiable interference of the claimant's rights under art.8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. (Article 8 concerns the right to respect for private and family life.)

As a consequence, the Scottish Government has published the draft Police Act 1997 and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 Remedial Order 2018 and draft Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exclusions and Exceptions) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2018. Currently, certain listed offences (including violent and sexual offences) must always be disclosed in a higher-level disclosure. Subject to the Scottish Parliament's approval, the draft Orders, which are due to come into force on 17 February 2018, will extend the right of individuals to apply to the sheriff (see Appeals against disclosure) to remove spent convictions for those listed offences from a higher-level disclosure certificate where 15 or more years have passed since the date of conviction (seven years and six months or more where the individual was under 18 when convicted). If the Sheriff refuses the request, the spent convictions must be disclosed and included in the certificate. The Sheriff can remove the conviction from the certificate only where the conviction is not relevant to the individual's role.


Employment law

Employment law relevant to recruitment and selection is applicable in Scotland in the same way as it is in England.