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.
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