R v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police & Another [2004] EWCA Civ 1068

A Chief Constable was under a duty to disclose information to a prospective employer in an enhanced criminal record certificate if the information might be relevant, unless there was good reason for not making the disclosure.(s.115 Police Act 1997)
The Court of Appeal overruled the decision of the Administrative Court’s (QBD) in January 2004, which found that the Chief Constable of West Midlands(C) had wrongly disclosed information in an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate.(X v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police)  The original case had involved the disclosure by C of information deemed to be relevant to X’s application for a post as a social worker.  X had been accused of indecent assault and attempted rape but was never prosecuted and had no previous criminal convictions.  X argued that C’s disclosure was procedurally unfair and contrary to Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights.  C had disclosed the information to X’s prospective employer based on a carefully prepared report by the Force Central Information Unit, which balanced the competing factors in the case.  The position applied for by X involved caring for persons under the age of 18.

In overruling the Administrative Court, the Court of Appeal found that it was unduly burdensome to expect C to permit X an opportunity to make representations prior to carrying out its statutory duty of disclosure. This was the case particularly since X had already provided an account to the police, could explain his position to the employers, or could apply to have his certificate corrected under s.117 of the 1997 Act.  It also distinguished the case from Chief Constable of North Wales 1998 and found that the judge had misinterpreted the judgment in that case, where the disclosure had not been made under the statutory framework provided by the Police Act 1997.

Whilst recognising how damaging the disclosure might be to X’s employment prospects, C was entitled to be of the opinion that the information might be relevant, so that it had to be disclosed to X’s potential employers.

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