20 year old cannot become teacher because he stole bikes aged 11

A 20 year old has launched a battle to have information removed from his criminal records – in his case, youthful waywardness and the theft of bikes aged 11. This came up on his CRB check and could prevent him from becoming a teacher.

Thousands of people have such incidents in their past – either real misdemeanors as a child, or accusations, or encounters with the police that didn’t proceed to an arrest or prosecution.

And all of these people are affected by the enhanced CRB check, which brings up all information on police files – unlike the standard check, which returns only cautions and convictions. Today a greater portion of checks are enhanced checks – and these are required for everything from public service jobs to many university courses.

I have just received an email from a young man trying to resume his career as a care worker, who faces a similar problem.

‘Every interview I attended (and there were many) I passed with flying colours (I have also worked with asylum seekers and disabled adults). However, at the stage of being CRB checked there was always some mystery problem, the result was always the same “We cannot employ you because of your criminal past”. I have never been to court and never convicted of any offence. However, as a Black youth I have been arrested detained and beaten without charge. When asking for my records to be released I was flatly denied and on asking for a review I was ignored several times. The result is that Our Nation has lost one of its better Care workers for no apparent reason.’

The young man is considering emigrating as a result. What a senseless waste – somebody who wants to contribute to British society is being prevented from doing so.

What is particularly frightening about this story is the fact that he cannot even find out what the accusations are against him. The information on the ‘discretionary’ section of an enhanced disclosure often arrives separately from the main disclosure, and is marked ‘private’. This is pure Kakfa: that a person cannot even know of what they are accused. They cannot clear themselves, since there is no case or prosecution.

Inside Out exposed a worrying case of a young woman prevented from being a nurse – because as a 17-year-old she tried to use her friend’s ID to get into a nightclub. As a 17-year-old she pretended to be 18: who hasn’t done that? That such a commonplace event is returned with grave seriousness on her CRB check suggests that the system is grievously at fault.

There is a strong case for severely limiting – or even abolishing – the enhanced disclosure, as called for in
this petition.

In essence the enhanced disclosure presents information that is unproven, untested, or irrelevant. When nearly four million people are undergoing enhanced disclosures each year, this leads to miscarriage of justice on a grand scale.