Regina (X) v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police: CA 30 Jul 2004

The claimant had been accused of offences, but the prosecution had been discontinued when the child victims had failed to identify him. The police had nevertheless notified potential employers and he had been unable to obtain work as a social worker.
Held: The Chief Constable’s appeal succeeded. In order for the police to include in an enhanced disclosure material of this kind, he had to be satisfied that the information had to be relevant for a position which would regularly involve working with children or vulnerable adults. What was to be included was a matter for the opinion of the Chief Constable, but he had a duty to disclose the elements which were relevant. The policy served a pressing social need. It might be unfortunate if the claimant had been wrongly identified, but he would be in the same position if the employer had asked the same questions which a prudent employer might ask, namely whether he had ever been charged with any offences. The disclosure of such material could not be a breach of the claimant’s Article 8 rights.
Lord Woolf CJ described the general scheme of the legislation: ‘. . . it is useful to note the following significant aspects of the statutory scheme involving ECRCs.
(i) The whole process of obtaining an ECRC is initiated by the person to whom the certificate will relate. The certificate is for his purposes to enable him to obtain employment which, at least in practical terms, will not be available to him unless he obtains a certificate.
(ii) The certificate will only be seen by the applicant and his prospective employer.
(iii) The applicant has the opportunity to persuade the Secretary of State to correct the certificate.
(iv) The Chief Constable is under a duty to provide the information referred to in section 115(7). This is subject to the requirement that the information might be relevant and ought to be included in the certificate. What might be relevant and what ought to be included is a matter for the opinion of the Chief Constable.
(v) The applicant is in a position to provide additional information if he wishes, whether in conflict with the certificate or not, to the prospective employer and it is the prospective employer who will make the decision as to whether he should or should not be employed.’ and
‘ Having regard to the language of section 115, the Chief Constable was under a duty to disclose if the information might be relevant, unless there was some good reason for not making such a disclosure.
This was obviously required by Parliament because it was important (for the protection of children and vulnerable adults) that the information should be disclosed even if it only might be true. If it might be true, the person who was proposing to employ the claimant should be entitled to take it into account before the decision was made as to whether or not to employ the claimant. This was the policy of the legislation in order to serve a pressing social need.’
Lord Woolf said that s115 was compliant with the convention: ‘It is helpful to note that while it is accepted by both parties that the information which is included in the ECRC might offend against article 8(1), it is not suggested that the legislation itself contravenes article 8. No doubt this is because disclosure of the information contained in the certificate would be ‘in accordance with the law’ and ‘necessary in a democratic society’, in the interests of public safety and for the prevention of crime and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This country must, through its legislature, be entitled to enable information to be available to prospective employers, where the nature of the employment means that particular care should be taken to ensure that those who are working with the appropriate categories of persons can be relied on to do so, without those in their care coming to harm if they are under the age of 18 or vulnerable adults.’ and ‘ . . how can the Chief Constable’s decision to disclose be challenged under article 8? As already indicated, the Chief Constable starts off with the advantage that his statutory role is not in conflict with article 8, because the statute meets the requirements of article 8(2). It follows also, that as long as the Chief Constable was entitled to form the opinion that the information disclosed might be relevant, then absent any untoward circumstance which is not present here, it is difficult to see that there can be any reason why the information that ‘might be relevant’, ought not to be included in the certificate. I accept that it is possible that there could be cases where the information should not be included in the certificate because it is disproportionate to do so; the information might be as to some trifling matter; it may be that the evidence made it so unlikely that the information was correct, that it again would be disproportionate to disclose it. These were not, in my judgment, the situations on the facts before the Chief Constable.’ and
‘The information which was disclosed, was information which a responsible employer in this field would want to know before making a decision as to whether to employ the claimant. The claimant is seeking to prevent that information being available. In my judgment, the making available of that information in accordance with the law, as occurred here, could not be contrary to article 8(2).’
Woolf LCJ, Mummery, Laws, LJJ
Times 17-Aug-2004, [2004] EWCA Civ 1068, [2005] 1 WLR 65, [2005] 1 All ER 610
Police Act 1997 115, European Convention on Human Rights 8
England and Wales
Appeal fromRegina (X) v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police QBD 23-Jan-2004
The claimant, a social worker, had been accused of two offences of indecency with children, but the complainants had failed to identify him. The respondent later disclosed those allegations when called upon to provide an enhanced criminal record . .
CitedRegina v Chief Constable of North Wales Police and Others Ex Parte Thorpe and Another; Regina v Chief Constable for North Wales Police Area and others ex parte AB and CB CA 18-Mar-1998
Public Identification of Pedophiles by Police
AB and CB had been released from prison after serving sentences for sexual assaults on children. They were thought still to be dangerous. They moved about the country to escape identification, and came to be staying on a campsite. The police sought . .
CitedRegina v Local Authority and Police Authority in the Midlands ex parte LM 2000
The applicant owned a bus company whose contract with the local education authority for the provision of school bus services was terminated after the disclosure by the police and the social services department of a past investigation into an . .

Cited by:
CitedL, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis Admn 19-Mar-2006
The court considered the duties on the respondent in providing an enhanced criminal record certificate. In one case, the claimant had brought up her son who was made subject to child protection procedures for neglect. Her job involved supervising . .
CitedDr D, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Health CA 19-Jul-2006
The doctor complained of the use of Alert letters where he was suspected of sexual abuse of patients, but the allegations were unsubstantiated. He complained particularly that he had been acquitted in a criminal court and then also by the . .
CitedL, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and Another CA 1-Mar-2007
The court considered the proper content of an enhanced criminal record certificate. The claimant said that it should contain only matter relating to actual or potential criminal activity.
Held: As to the meaning of section 115: ‘if Parliament . .
DisapprovedL, Regina (On the Application of) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis SC 29-Oct-2009
Rebalancing of Enhanced Disclosure Requirements
The Court was asked as to the practice of supplying enhanced criminal record certificates under the 1997 Act. It was said that the release of reports of suspicions was a disproportionate interference in the claimants article 8 rights to a private . .
CitedC, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department and Another CA 19-Jan-2011
The Chief Constable appealed against an order made against him on the disclosure made on replying to an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate request, of unproven sexual misconduct allegations against the claimant. The judge had found the disclosure . .
CitedMoos and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Commissioner of the Police of The Metropolis Admn 14-Apr-2011
The claimants, demonstrators at the G20 summit, complained of the police policy of kettling, the containment of a crowd over a period of time, not because they were expected to to behave unlawfully, but to ensure a separation from those who were. . .
CitedClift v Slough Borough Council CA 21-Dec-2010
The court was asked how, if at all, the Human Rights Act 1998 has affected a local authority’s defence of qualified privilege in defamation cases. The claimant had been placed on the Council’s Violent Persons Register after becoming very upset and . .
CitedT and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department and Another SC 18-Jun-2014
T and JB, asserted that the reference in certificates issued by the state to cautions given to them violated their right to respect for their private life under article 8 of the Convention. T further claims that the obligation cast upon him to . .
CitedAR, Regina (on The Application of) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and Another SC 30-Jul-2018
The appellant had been tried for and acquitted on a criminal charge. He now challenged the disclosure by the respondent of the charge in an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate.
Held: His appeal failed. The critical question was whether the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 17 August 2021; Ref: scu.200297