The government has today brought forward legislation to change the disclosure of criminal records. It follows a landmark Supreme Court judgement in January 2019 in a case brought by the charity Just for Kids Law, that ruled the disclosure of youth reprimands to future employers to be incompatible with human rights legislation. Upholding a 2017 ruling by the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court found that the disclosure of youth reprimands on DBS forms was 'directly inconsistent' with their intended purpose as a diversion from the criminal justice system.
The case was brought on behalf of a young person who was challenging the policy of disclosing records of reprimands he received when he was 13 years old. Under current law, these reprimands will appear on standard and enhanced DBS checks until he is 100 years old.
This legislation will mean that any reprimands, warnings or cautions received in childhood will no longer be disclosed on a criminal record check.
Enver Solomon, CEO of Just for Kids Law, said:
‘This legislation is long overdue and we are pleased the government has finally taken action to implement the Supreme Court judgement. Every year about 25,000 youth cautions issued to children - the legal equivalent of a slap on the wrist - are disclosed in criminal record checks, most of which are for incidents that happened over 5 years ago. A shockingly disproportionate number affect young people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. All these people have been unlawfully stigmatised by the government dragging its feet and failing to change the law.
These changes are an important first step in achieving a fairer and more proportionate system. The government should now also carry out a review of the entire criminal records disclosure regime for children and young people. It’s time for a radically new approach that doesn’t leave children with lifelong criminal records that rob them of the chance to be fully rehabilitated.'