Disclosure of information on request

Access to criminal records for employment purposes is now formalised in a statutory system set up by the Police Act 1997 (PA). This system involves a centralised procedure for criminal record checks for employment-related and voluntary appointment purposes. All checks are carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). A check can only be applied for by the person who is the subject of the check, or by the employer, provided that this is with the knowledge and consent of the person who is the subject of the check. Each application will require payment of a fee.

If you are required to make such an application, you should also find out who will be responsible for payment of this fee, that is, yourself or the potential employer. The CRB will then carry out the check by examining various databases and then potentially issue one of three types of certificates, depending upon the nature of the check required. This in turn will depend upon the nature of the employment or voluntary appointment for which the person is applying. In certain cases, the CRB may also provide the potential employer with information which is not set out on the certificate, and which you will not get to see. The types of certificates are as follows:

(1) Standard Level Check and Criminal Record Certificate

This type of check is available for any person seeking a position involving regular contact with persons under 18 years of age or with persons who may otherwise be vulnerable, or for other occupations which are excepted from the ROA, including nurses, lawyers, accountants, police officers and traffic wardens, but which do not require an enhanced level check.

This check requires a joint application from both the relevant person and the potential employer or organisation seeking the check. The potential employer or organisation must be a ‘registered person’ in order to be able to make such a joint application.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA) has been enacted and will come into force at the end of 2009. This will abolish the existing listing mechanisms concerning suitability to work with children and vulnerable adults. Instead, the SVGA will create the Independent Barring Board to establish and maintain children’s and adults’ barred lists. Individuals will still have a right of appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal concerning inclusion on those new lists.

(2) High Level Check and Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate

This type of check will be available for people applying for an increasing range of jobs . It is currently available for all those who are applying for work which regularly involves caring for, training, supervision or being in sole charge of those aged under 18 or vulnerable adults. The check will also be available for any person seeking registration as a child minder or day carer, or approval as a foster carer or adopting parent, or seeking gaming or lottery licences or judicial appointments, or where your suitability as a company director is in question.

Recent amendments have been made to ensure that Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates can be called for in a wider range of situations. Since September 2006, school governors, and anyone with any kind of position in a primary or secondary school (which presumably will include, for example, caretakers and gardeners), are covered by the Enhanced Certificate system . Any from July 2007 it was extended further to include a range of occupations regulated under the Gambling Act 2005, as well as a range of employees and officers of government departments and public bodies whose work gives them access to sensitive or personal information about children or vulnerable adults .

Like an Intermediate Level Check, a High Level Check will require a joint application from the person whom the certificate relates to, and the potential employer/organisation which must itself be registered.

The check will result in the issue of an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate. This will show all of the details that would be contained on a Criminal Record Certificate, including unspent and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings, and notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. It will also include appearances on the protection of children and vulnerable adult lists.

An Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate may also show ‘other relevant information’ held by the police that is not about convictions, cautions, appearances on lists or so on, but which the chief officer of the relevant police force considers to be relevant to the job or voluntary work sought, and appropriate to be shown to both the offender and the potential employer/organisation. This ‘other relevant information’ may include criminal intelligence information, records of acquittals and results of inconclusive police investigations as well as uncorroborated allegations from informants.

Any Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate will be provided to both the person whose details it sets out, and the potential employer/organisation.

There is a third kind of check provided by the Police Act, called a basic level check, which will only disclose unspent convictions, but this particular provision has not yet been put in force in England and Wales and is only available in Scotland.

Other relevant information disclosed ‘off-Certificate’ to employer/organization alone

It is important to note that if the chief officer of the relevant police force receives a request for other information for an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate, and he considers that there is such information which the employer/organisation ought to know, but which should not be included on the certificate itself because it may prejudice interests of the detection or prevention of crime, that information can be revealed separately to the potential employer/organisation. It will not appear on the Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate at all. In such cases, the person whom the information concerns will be unaware not only of the content of such relevant information provided, but even of the fact that it has been provided. The potential employer/organisation will not be entitled to disclose that content, or the fact that they have received it, to the applicant.
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