Extended Criminal Record Certificates – A Balance Must Be Struck

Those who work with children or vulnerable adults are required to have extended criminal record certificates (ECRCs) so that prospective employers can judge whether they are fit to perform such sensitive roles. However, as one Court of Appeal case showed, a careful balance has to be struck between disclosure of information and the serious blight that might cause to an individual’s career.

The case concerned a teacher who vehemently denied claims that he had made sexually inappropriate comments to students, aged between 17 and 24, during a college trip abroad. His local police force decided, however, that it was necessary to include those allegations on his ECRC. That made it very unlikely that he would be able to find employment in his chosen field, but his judicial review challenge to the decision was dismissed by the High Court.

In upholding his appeal against that ruling, the Court of Appeal found that the police decision was unbalanced and disproportionate. The man’s ECRC made no mention of the fact that the Independent Safeguarding Authority had approved him as fit to continue teaching children. It was clear that the police had failed to take account of a relevant factor when reaching the decision. The ECRC was quashed.