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28th August 2013

Crossing the line

Stop, look, listen. We know we can cross the railway line at these points; anywhere else and we could be committing a criminal offence. The teacher who seduces a pupil on the eve of his 18th birthday also commits an offence. But if she waits until midnight has passed?

Hereto, crossing the line into criminal behaviour has damned an individual for life. It would show up on a criminal records check (now called a DBS check) and employers of people in exempted occupations would be able to decide the relevance of the crime (and assess hence the risk to vulnerable service users) in employing such people.

However a recent case involving disclosure of someone who stole a bicycle at the age of eleven reached the Court of Appeal. It was decided that certain minor offences should be disregarded for the purposes of DBS checks in future. UK legislation has now been amended so that certain convictions and cautions will not be disclosed on DBS certificates – and employers will not be permitted to ask about them.

Employers will only be permitted to ask (on an application form for example): Do you have any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not protected as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013)?  It remains to be seen how many care sector applicants will refer to the legislation – although those for whom it is relevant would be advised to do so.

Malcolm Martin – QCS Expert Contributor on Human Resources


Business Support Manager

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