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CRB check appeal fails over police warning given when aged 11

CRB checks out of control

A young man appealing against the contents of an Enhanced Criminal Records Certificate (ECRC) – a CRB check –  which revealed a police warning given to him when he was just 11 years of age, has failed in his High Court appeal against it. suggests that this ‘one strike and you are out’ system is creating a whole underclass of citizen whose entire lives may be affected by a silly mistake made as a young child. It also smacks of an uncompromising and authoritarian regime.

Yesterday, the High Court(Kenneth Parker J) gave judgement in R (T) v (1) Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, (2) Secretary of State for the Home Department (Secretary of State for Justice an interested party) [2012] EWHC 147 (Admin). The judgement is available here:  T_v_Greater_Manchester_Police.

In July 2002, the Claimant was 11 years old. He received a warning (a private procedure, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998) from Greater Manchester Police for the theft of two bicycles. His subsequent conduct was apparently exemplary. By section 113B of the Police Act 1997, Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates (ECRCs) must contain all convictions, cautions and warnings. The Claimant, a 20-year old student applying for a sports studies course, obtained his ECRC in December 2010. It contained details of the bike theft warning.

He argued that the inflexible requirement under the 1997 Act for all convictions, cautions and warnings to be disclosed in ECRCs was incompatible with Article 8 of the ECHR.

The case illustrates the nightmare that the CRB system has become. Essentially, if you have any cause to be formally warned or reprimanded by the police when you are a child 10 years of age or older, that will constitute a criminal record for the purposes of CRB checks and could possible prevent you from ever working, obtaining insurance or even potentially dis-allow you from volunteering.

The Claimant also sought to challenge the lawfulness of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 – which removes, in certain circumstances, the protections concerning spent convictions. This claim failed for the same reasons. Kenneth Parker J added this notable observation:

“In these circumstances I do not believe that there is any real independent issue about the legality of the Order under Article 8 ECHR.  The conclusion must be the same.  However, I should perhaps add that the reverse argument does not necessarily apply.  In other words, even if it were disproportionate under Article 8 ECHR for the state to disclose, say, a warning long ago given to a child for a minor criminal matter, it would not automatically be an infringement if the state permitted a private employer to enquire about all criminal convictions, to insist on truthful answers and to take appropriate action in response to the answers given.”

It would seem that despite the government’s proposed limited and cosmetic changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and CRB regime, there is still no place for common sense.

Given that the UK has so much Law and that it is almost impossible now to go through life without falling foul of it somewhere along the way, the inevitable conclusion will eventually be that whole swathes of the population will be branded as criminals for ever. Whilst this may afford the present and successive governments some short term gain, it is almost certainly not in the best interests of society as a whole.

It is, according to official figures, already the case that 30% or more of all working age men have a criminal record of one sort or another. If when a CRB check is carried out every warning and reprimand is to be revealed as well as every offence, that percentage will increase significantly and very rapidly.

What is even more ridiculous, as has pointed out on many occasions, is that CRB checks were introduced in the wake of the Soham murders in an attempt to protect children and vulnerable adults from so-called ‘stranger danger’. The result instead has been to create vulnerable, unemployed individuals who are prevented from living what most people would regard as a ‘normal’ life, often as a result of some infraction of the law that took place very many years previously.

Although the judge in this most recent case was clearly unhappy at having to dismiss the application against the CRB certificate, he stated that his hands were tied by the law. However, he did go on to say:

“… a system that allows no exceptions imposes a very heavy cost in terms of effect on the fundamental rights protected by Article 8 ECHR.  I am not persuaded that the marginal benefit that a system which admits no exceptions brings to, admittedly important, competing interests is justified as a matter of proportionality when the serious detrimental effects of such a system, particularly on child offenders, are weighed in the balance.  A system that permitted exceptions would probably be more prone to error, but only marginally so if the criteria for review were themselves conservative and risk averse.  The consequential improvement to the protection of Article 8 rights on the other hand, would be likely to be substantial.” believes that the government should take heed of this warning or risk having to rule over a nation of branded criminals. Whilst such a prospect may previously have been thought of as being ridiculous, the fact is that such a situation is appearing in reality.

Mr Justice Parker was clearly unhappy at the present situation; unhappy enough in fact to grant the student leave to appeal.

Britain’s obsession with criminals and its almost insatiable lust for locking people up will eventually be its downfall if measures are not taken to seriously address the current situation quickly.

As ministers do nothing other than produce more and more laws to break, so the UK will continue to have the unenviable reputation of being the country in the EU which locks more people up than any other, has more life sentenced and indeterminate sentenced prisoners than all the other countries of the EU put together and now allows minor errors made as a child to prevent people from working, paying taxes and contributing to the community.

To their shame, history shows that the British have always loved to persecute others. Now that no other country takes Britain seriously any more (can you blame them?), it seems that the only course left for our rulers is to persecute their own people.

So much for democracy and a ‘fair and just’ society.

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18 Responses to CRB check appeal fails over police warning given when aged 11

  1. ozzy
    August 21, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    its pathetic that a murder can walk on the street free to murder some one else plus gettim housin gettin benefit and some one who got minor offences like thiefin candies or cheatin benefit etc could end up having the catogiry as a murder ? thresa may u need to change that

  2. Toni Page
    January 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    My 17 year old son got into a fight at school when he was 11 years old. There were no injuries to either party. He is now a 17 year old student studying Football Academy. His ambition is to go to the USA. He has been helping out coaching football at a private school for 2 months. They have asked for his CRB and he explained that he has a record of battery (S.39). The school haave now decided that they no longer want him to coach at the school. At the time of the offence, he was told that this would be on police record until he reached 18yrs. This is now affecting his future career prosects. I am now going to appeal this conviction as the wording fo this offence is too severe.

  3. Amanda
    January 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm


    Dont give up hope. In March 2007, I was living at my Mum’s with my sister. I got asked to leave by the Police as my Mum claimed the was an injunction order against me. I left and that was that. My mum now had cancer.

    I carried on teaching. I had another CRB as I was working with very vulnerable children. My CRB was clear. I then got offered a brilliant job. When I went for interview I had a copy of my CRB, got the job and had a brilliant future.

    Then 3 months later “the incident came up!” In the “other information Section!” so I got dismissed as “the Police claimed that my family had stated my behaviour was strange. No evidence. I have rotted away in call centres and was absolutely devastated.


    GO FOR IT!!!!!

  4. Di
    January 25, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I recently went to a conference about he “New” Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) which used to be the CRB and was surprised to now learn that if your partner or family member, who lives with you as a caution or a conviction for something relevant to your job you can be referred to the DBS and you could be barred from working with children or vulnerable groups. The whole system has gone mad.

  5. Linda
    November 9, 2012 at 8:35 am

    My son lost his job when the enhanced CRB check revealed a mistake he made aged 12 was disclosed. Since then i’ve investigated every avenue to get his caution deleted, supposed to be done when he reached the age of 18, now it appears it will be deleted when he reaches 100. I urge anyone affected by this ridiculous law to sign the petition., maybe, just maybe some one will listen.

  6. Jennifer
    May 30, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    When I was 14 years old I stole some sweets from superdrug. I know, I’m such a criminal! Anyway, I was taken to the police station and given a warning, told that this warning would be removed from the police database in 3 years and wouldn’t affect my future.

    Since then – having been scared and shamed by the ordeal! – I have gone out of my way to be a model citizen and pursue my dream of working with children.

    I have been looking into becoming a full time Nanny, something that I am so desperate to do, I can’t even put it in words! I intend to be a nanny whilst finishing my DL degree in psychology and then enrol for a psychology doctorate.

    It looks like none of this will happen now as an enhanced CRB disclosure (required for the nannying and doctorate) will declare THEFT on it in a very obvious and ominous way.
    I am appealing with the police station, who have informed me they have the power to remove it in “exceptional circumstances” but I am not optimistic with the result. I think the exceptional circumstances mean when the caution was incorrectly given. It wasn’t.

    No one will employ a nanny with a criminal record, even one with 6 years child care experience and a relevant degree!

    I am beside myself with worry over this appeal!
    God damn my 14 year old self for being so stupid! And god damn the new system bought in in 2009 (just 1 month before my record was to be made clean!)


  7. Human
    April 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I was not a child when I was accused of an offence at my previous work place. I am completely innocent of any wrong doing and though the police thought so when I got arrested he persuade me to sign a caution form even though I have have never admited to an offence. When I signed the form, I failed to read and reflect on what the form was saying. Also, at the station the police was playing my best friend even protecting me from his fellow colleges. No one was allowed to talk to me or even touch me. Naive as I was, I thought the police had my best interest but he has not only lied to me but destroyed my life. Thought I worked my entire life building a career for myself I can’t find work with the accusations on my CRB. I am now seeing a psychologist to help me deal with this traumatic experience but to be honest with you I RATHER BE DEAD THAN TO LIVE A LIFE WITH THIS LIFE SENTENCE. Also why don’t the government give people with caution a prison sentences, at least in prison they will have work to do and avoid the stigma of society of “WAIST OF SPACE” or “GOOD FOR NOTHING” or “CRIMINALS YOU MUST BE CONDEMNED FOR LIFE”.
    There is an Epetition going on @ HMM GOVERNMENT EPETITION for cautions to be deleted from police records. Please sign as we need as many signatures to encourage the parliament to discuss this matter.

  8. angela
    March 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    What sort of society do we live in when a child killer can come out of prison early and protect his identity, get round the clock protection, a new identity, a home and a job, but a guy or girl who shoplifts or commits a petty crime many years ago can have this hanging over them for the REST OF THEIR LIVES – Police do not have an appeals system either for crimes over so many years and yet they re-did the law to include these juvenile convictions —-how many where not guilty anyway, or just admitted something not knowing it would come back to haunt them in this way…WHAT THE HELL IS THE COUNTRY COMING TOO!!

    No incentive to break free of crime…why not just carry on? Why bother educating yourself when the state does not let you improve? change…Great Britain will be one big ghetto in years to come…whats that I hear you say…oh yeah in parts it already is.

    • Naseem hussain
      January 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Yes your so right gone threw the same senario I started a job with the nhs crb came bk n had t leave

  9. Ryan
    March 26, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Note: I do not excuse myself for anything I did when I was younger, it was wrong. It’s just that I am in another world compares to that of my 11 year old self, as i’m sure most people are.

    When I was 11 years old, in the company of a friend, we stole some tobacco from his Grandmother’s home while she was on holiday, which I got a warning for. Also, when I was 12, again in the company of another, we threw some stones at a green house.I took the fall and got another warning.

    So far, this has not affected me too much (only time i got a CRB check is for volunteer work for St John’s ambulance, which they overlooked), but it reflects horribly on me as a person, when in reality, it was simply a couple of very bad choices I made as a very immature, naive and stupid young kid.

    I’m forever branded as a burglar and vandal. What a stupid child I was.

    • Raymond Peytors -
      March 27, 2012 at 12:06 am

      There is no such thing as a ‘stupid child’. What is stupid is the fact that British society will willingly accept that people can be condemned for life for something that occured when they were just a child and before they realised that even the most minor infraction of the law would follow them all their life. This is the only European country where such a vindictive and unforgiving regime exists. It is not something that Britain should be proud of – ever. – Editor

  10. David Wacks
    March 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I am a Solicitor who has over the last couple of years dealt with numerous enquiries from clients seeking to review CRB Enhanced Disclosure. Unfortunately, the Police practice seems to be to mention everything on the record rather than weigh up whether there is any genuine risk to the public. Many innocent people are therefore unable to get work because of this. It is possible to have these reviewed.

    • Jennifer
      May 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      Hi David,
      What is the success rate of such reviews, do you know? And in what circumstances do they review it?

  11. William Garland
    February 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I wish I could leave this dreadful Police State country, I can’t, because I have’nt enough money, though they would probably try to prevent me from doing so! It never ceases to amaze me how foreign migrants, will hide underneath juggernauts, or create make shift rafts, to try and get into this dreadful dump of a country. I would probably, do the same, but in an attempt to leave the country. I mean I myself received a Police Caution when I was fifteen years of age in 1976, and although it is supposed to be wiped of the slate when I reached eighteen, I bet, though, it is still lurking on some Police computer somewhere, (or perhaps I should say Waffen SS computer) to haunt me, if I applied for some job somewhere that involved an ECRC check.

    And of course, we all know, Justice, in this country, is about how large, the size of your wallet is, together, Perhaps, with powerful connections. Two recent acquitals, of firstly a Peer of the Realms son and secondly a senoir Officer in the Armed Services, charged with sex offences, illustrates this point.

  12. Anne
    February 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Britain will never change. The rich will get richer and everyone else will suffer. If you are unemployed then you are more likely to break the law and end up with a bad CRB check round your neck

  13. alana
    February 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm



    • bobjob
      February 21, 2012 at 10:28 am

      I know it’s not fasionable to run down one’s own country but I really wish I could join you. The UK now is the pits.

  14. Harry
    February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    When will this country ever learn that more law does not mean a better society? The UK is the only country in the EU obsessed with all this stuff. Nobody else does it, nobody else seems to need it and nearly everyone thinks Britain is crazy to continue it. Wake up Cameron and understand that you are not Tony Blair, thank God.

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