Unjustified CRB checks challenged

Councils in Kent and East Sussex have been accused of carrying out unjustified Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for job applicants. Who the Councils are checking:

  • Swale Borough Council in Kent  – jobs including beach cleaner and park ranger
  • Ashford council – checks workers such as leisure centre receptionists and catering assistants
  • Tunbridge Wells council  – checks healthy lifestyle co-ordinators and community development officers.
  • Eastbourne council – checks on environmental health officers, building control and planning officers.

Swale Borough Councillor Mike Cosgrove admitted its checks could be described as “somewhat over-zealous”. “That is a balance which we are continuing to review,” he said. “But I would say that we are doing this in good faith. “We want to make sure that those services which we operate which touch children and vulnerable adults are as secure as possible.”.

Unlock, the National Association of Reformed Offenders, said the possibility that a worker might come into contact with children was not sufficient justification for disclosing a spent criminal conviction. “There is a balance between punishing somebody and letting them prove that they can leave crime behind,” said spokesman Christopher Stacey.  Mr Linehan said some of Nacro’s clients had been refused jobs because of offences committed 30 years ago which came up on CRB checks.

CRB checks show current and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer, as well as other information held by local police.  The Home Office said it was reviewing guidance and processes for CRB checks, which are intended for teachers, care workers and others working with children or vulnerable adults.  They can also be carried out for workers such as cleaners, caretakers and catering staff at schools or care homes.