The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Bit More on the CRB

Reading the comments on my CRB thread, I am reminded of the inexorable mission creep that always follows in these cases. The whole CRB business was, if I recall correctly, impelled by a number of horrible child-abuse crimes in which (pace Ian Huntley) dangerous people slipped through the system and gained employment close to children, with awful consequences. The mechanism to avoid, or at least minimise this risk existed, but was badly applied, with inconsistencies between police forces across the country.
Previously, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act had ensured that all crimes, apart from the most serious, were wiped from your record after a period of good behaviour. It was difficult to get hold of anyone's record (although I know of one employer who routinely paid local police officers to check out all of his staff on the PNC). When my son went to work abroad he was required to provide a police certificate before he could get a visa. Such a document is unknown in this country, so in the event, after much delay, we managed to get a Data Protection Act Certificate for him, that I collected the day before he was due to go to the airport.
Nowadays, many jobs require CRB checks, but these are by no means confined to the protection of vulnerable groups, since ingenious employers simply have to declare the possibility, however tenuous, that the employee might come across children, or the elderly, or whoever, to get the check done.
This means in practice that it is harder then ever before for someone who has committed crime in the past, but has reformed and settled down (as do most offenders eventually) to get a job. I think that the Law of Unintended Consequences might apply here, as it so often does, since Parliament has never formally decided to label offenders for life, although that is what is now happening.