R (on the application of L) (FC) (Appellant) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Respondent), [2009] UKSC 3

Location: Case Types Human Rights

25/11/2009 13:38

This case raises important issues about the meaning and application in practice of s.115(7) of the Police Act 1997 as to the information that is to be provided by the chief officer of a police force to the Secretary of State for inclusion in an enhanced criminal record certificate (“ECRC”).

The appellant L was the mother of X who was born in 1989. Following upon a child protection conference in 2002, X’s name was placed on the child protection register under the category of neglect. In 2003, X was convicted for a robbery and was sentenced to three years’ detention in a young offender institution. His name was then removed from the child protection register as he was in detention. He was released in February 2004.

From February to December 2004 the appellant was employed by an employment agency which provided staff to schools. Between March and July 2004 she worked as a midday assistant at a secondary school. At the start of her employment the agency applied for an ECRC in accordance with s.115 of the 1997 Act. In December 2004 the ECRC was issued in response to the police check. It recorded that the appellant had no criminal convictions and that no information on her was recorded either on the list held under s.142 of the Education Act 2002 or on the Protection of Children Act 1999 list. However, in the box titled “Other relevant information disclosed at the Chief Police Officer’s discretion”, the Secretary of State disclosed information pertaining to the circumstances surrounding X. Shortly afterwards the appellant was informed by the agency that her services were no longer required.

The appellant sought judicial review of the Commissioner’s decision to disclose the information contained in the ECRC. Her application was dismissed by Munby J. The Court of Appeal granted leave to appeal and the Secretary of State made an application to intervene which was granted. In March 2007 the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. L appealed.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. It held that it was possible for s.115(7) to be read and to be given effect to so that decisions were taken which were compatible with the applicant’s article 8 right.

Further, the court refused the appellant’s request that the decision that was made in her case be quashed. There was no doubt that the information that was disclosed about her was relevant for the purpose for which the ECRC was being required. As for the question whether it ought to have been disclosed, insufficient weight was given to the appellant’s right to respect for her private life. However, there was no doubt that the facts that were narrated were true. It was also information that bore directly on the question whether she was a person who could safely be entrusted with the job of supervising children in a school canteen or in the playground. It was then for the employer to decide what to make of this information. The risk to the children was held to outweigh the prejudicial effects that disclosure would give rise to.

Court: House Of Lords (UK)

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