Revealing Acquittals in Record Checks is Legal
- Date: Friday 24th August 2018
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In a surprise verdict, courts recently ruled that the disclosure of allegations for which an individual was acquitted may still be disclosed as part of their criminal records checks.
In this particular case, a lecturer had been accused, and acquitted of, rape in 2011.
When he requested an enhanced criminal records certificate to apply for a teaching role, the charge was disclosed as part of the check.
The principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ was fundamentally put in question when the courts ruled that the disclosure was lawful. The verdict was given on the basis that there had been sufficient evidence to call a trial, but that guilt could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt. It should therefore be left to the police to decide whether or not a charge should be included in the report.
The claimant has indicated that they will appeal against the decision.
Don’t forget that, as an employer, you are bound to act within the realms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which states that ex-offenders should not be unreasonably discriminated against.
Here are 5 Top Tips to ensure you are on the right side of the law:
- Risk assess the role and don’t DBS check everyone as a matter of cause. Only those working in risk areas, such as care or teaching, should receive a record check.
- Ensure you use the correct record check. If you are concerned about financial records for example, a DBS check won’t help you. You will need to undertake a credit check instead.
- Implement a Data Safety Policy that ensures that the results of the checks are not openly disclosed or discussed.
- Only undertake a check once the applicant has been offered the role.
- Don’t refuse or terminate employment automatically upon return of a compromising result. Consider the impact the conviction or allegation may have on their duties, hold a formal (minuted) meeting and make a decision after carefully considering all your options.
Source: Manuela Grossmann, SSG