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UK: Justice Committee publishes report on disclosure of youth criminal records

27th October 2017

The current system for disclosure of youth criminal records undermines the principles of the youth justice system, says the Justice Committee in a new report, 'Disclosure of youth criminal records', published today. 

The report also argues that the system may well fall short of the UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Witnesses highlighted the adverse effect of childhood criminal records on individuals' access to employment, education, housing, insurance, visas for travel, those within the care system and others.

Problems caused by the disclosure regime potentially affect large numbers of people. In 2014-15, 26% of standard DBS checks and 23% of enhanced checks related to subjects who were under 18 at the time of a conviction.

The report makes a number of recommendations for changing the statutory framework, including:

  • An urgent review of the filtering regime, to consider removing the rule preventing the filtering of multiple convictions;
  • Introducing lists of non-filterable offences customised for particular areas of employment, together with a threshold test for disclosure that is based on disposal/sentence; 
  • Reducing qualifying periods for the filtering of childhood convictions and cautions;
  • Considering the feasibility of extending this new approach, possibly with modifications, to the disclosure of offences committed by young adults up to the age of 25;
  • Allowing chief police officers additional discretion to withhold disclosure of non-filterable offences, taking into account the age and circumstances of the offence, with a rebuttable presumption against disclosure of offences committed during childhood.

Overall the evidence strongly supported the case for changing the criminal records disclosure system. The majority of those who expressed a view thought that reform was needed in respect of records of crimes committed by young adults (18–25 year olds).

A summary of the report is available here.

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