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Law on criminal record checks for nurses relaxed


Minor offenders will no longer be barred from becoming nurses and care home workers after legislation on criminal record checks was overhauled by the government.

Currently, people who want to work in the care profession have to go through record checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau.

But convictions that do not result in a custodial sentence will now be filtered from checks after 11 years for adults and five-and-a-half years for young offenders, while cautions will be filtered from checks after six years for adults and two years for young offenders, the Home Office said.

The move comes after the Court of Appeal ruled that the law which requires people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.

It means that old and minor cautions and convictions will no longer be flagged up on checks, which are requested by employers for positions where the job applicant will be working unsupervised with children and vulnerable adults.

The changes will affect thousands of volunteers and workers who apply for jobs that require a DBS check each year. In 2011-12, more than four million people applied for a criminal records check.

A conviction will only be filtered if there is no other offence on the individual’s record, and offences that carry a jail sentence will remain on checks.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, minister for criminal information, said: “The protection of children and vulnerable groups is of paramount importance to this Government. Criminal records checks are an important tool for employers to use in making informed safeguarding decisions.”

He stressed that this new system of checks strikes a balance between ensuring that children and vulnerable groups are protected and avoiding intrusion into people’s lives.

The Home Office said the new system should be up and running within weeks following Parliamentary scrutiny.

Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.





Readers' comments (5)

  • the new filtering system came into force on 29 May 2013 and should help people with minor old matters, but not every caution is removed after 6 years so that, for instance a caution the common law assaults would be filtered off but one for another minor assault – section 47 will continue until you are hundred
    there have been a number of cases recently expanding the areas where it may be possible to remove remaining cautions – in addition to enhanced disclosure of unproven allegations

    David Wacks

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  • latasha-leanne

    I have just signed up to Nursing Times, just so I could read this whole article.

    I have a reprimand for battery, from June 2004. I have confirmation from my local police force (West Mids - I wrote to them) that this particular offence is eligible for filtering as I was 14 when I received it and 2 years have passed. Does this filtering apply to enhanced DBS checks too, as this is what I would need to go into Nursing, which I really want to do. Please don't judge; I only got it because I finally stood up to a bully who had been subjecting me to hate crime for a while before said incident happened.


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  • l was convicted in year 2003 for Assault occassiong actual bodily harm , l hit my daughter with a belt and received 2 months in prison served one month will it ever be erased

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  • I was convicted of shoplifting in 2012, the details of which I do not wish to go into details now. Will I be able to do mental health nursing and how long will it stay before it is filtered, if possible. Pls help me as I am now a total wreck awashed with guilt.

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  • Nursing Times

    Nursing Times is not able to advise on individual cases as to whether a past conviction would prevent a person from being accepted on to a nursing course.

    In order to find out this information, we would advice contacting the university you are applying to directly.

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