Disclosing otherwise spent convictions

The Supreme Court in London recently considered the disclosure of otherwise spent convictions to potential employers for employment involving contact with children or vulnerable adults.

In 1996 the Respondent, Mrs Gallagher, was convicted and fined for driving without wearing a seat-belt herself and having three children in her car without seat-belts either. In 1998, she was again convicted and fined for having two children in her car without seat-belts. This was the extent of her criminality.

Some 15 years later, Mrs Gallagher was admitted to the Northern Ireland Social Care Council Register of Social Care Workers having qualified as a social carer. In 2014, she applied for a post at a day centre for adults with learning difficulties and received a conditional offer of employment.  

On being asked to disclose any convictions, Mrs Gallagher mentioned the 1996 conviction in respect of her children but not herself and omitted the 1998 incident altogether. The Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate disclosed her previous convictions and the conditional offer of employment was subsequently withdrawn.

The Supreme Court affirmed that the statutory disclosure scheme was incompatible with Mrs Gallagher’s right to privacy under the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

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In Re Gallagher [2019] NISC 3

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