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New briefing published – “Criminal record checks: is the volume of disclosures proportionate?”

Three-quarters of a million criminal records that are more than a decade old are being revealed to employers on DBS checks each year. That’s one of the findings of a new briefing published by the Centre for Criminal and Justice Studies (CCJS).

The research, which we have supported, was featured in The Observer on Sunday 26th November. The article looked at the need to reform the disclosure rules that are unnecessarily holding people with convictions back, and featured a quote from Unlock’s co-director, Christopher Stacey.

Over four million roles every year involve an enhanced DBS check, and although these were designed for jobs that involve close contact with children and vulnerable groups, it’s gone way beyond that now. Unlock regularly gets contacted by people who have been asked to do an enhanced check to be a delivery driver or a receptionist.

This can affect somebody who stole two chocolate bars when they were 14 and they’re now in their 50s. Having to relive one of the worst moments in their lives by explaining it to a stranger puts a lot of people off applying and unnecessarily anchors people to their past. The routine rejection by employers locks people out of the labour market and has a considerable financial cost to society through out-of-work benefits.

Unlock has called for reforms to the DBS filtering process, as well as the introduction of a criminal records tribunal, so individuals could apply not to have their criminal records disclosed in particular circumstances.


More information

  1. The briefing can be downloaded here.


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Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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