UK Supreme Court rejects government’s appeals in disclosure of criminal records case
© WikiMedia (Arpingstone)

UK Supreme Court rejects government’s appeals in disclosure of criminal records case

The UK Supreme Court on Thursday disposed of appeals from the government against several respondents who said that they were harmed by the disclosure of their relatively minor offenses.

The case involved several respondents who had “all been convicted or received cautions or reprimands in respect of relatively minor offending.” While their records only included relatively minor offenses, they had been required to disclose those records when they applied for “employment involving contact with children or vulnerable adults.” In bringing this case, the respondents challenged these record disclosure schemes, saying that they were “incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (ECHR),” which protects “the right to respect for private and family life.”

In its judgment, the court addressed two questions. First, it addressed “whether any interference with Article 8 ECHR” was “in accordance with the law.” Second, the court addressed whether such interference was “necessary in a democratic society.”

The court found that the record disclosure schemes satisfy the first question. However, the court found that, in some cases, the record disclosure schemes were not necessary in a democratic society. The court particularly found this to be true for the disclosures that were required due to multiple convictions and due to reprimands that had been issued for younger offenders.

The Supreme Court disposed of several of the government’s appeals, but allowed an appeal in the case of one of the respondents who was convicted for assault, because “assault occasioning actual bodily harm may be a serious offense and it was appropriate to include it within the category of offences requiring disclosure.”