Alex Watts : Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : What do you need to know please?
Many thanks. I need information about the way the new Disclosure and Barring Service is operating, and to know whether there are concerns in the legal profession about this. A friend of mine who's one and only offence was over 40 years ago has recently received a harsh judgement from them, appealed it, lost the appeal and wants to consider judicial review. Is the DBS acting in a way that is driving many people to consider this - and how would my friend go about it. Because he is distressed by his experience with the DBS, which has had material and reputational consequences for him, a group of us are proving support to him - my task is to find out about the DBS, and the possibility of judicial review. i look forward to hearing from you. thanks. XXXXX
Alex Watts : You can seek a judicial review if the decision was wrong in law or the decision made was one which no reasonable body could have made.
Alex Watts : Your friend would need a Solicitor as there are pre court rules to follow,
Alex Watts : In addition proceedings need to be issued in the administrative high court,
Alex Watts : The matter will be listed before a high court judge who will consider whether their decision is a legal one and reasonable.
Alex Watts : The judge will see whether they have failed to take into account all relevant matters applicable, or took into account irrelevant matters.
Alex Watts : A judge can either agree with the decision or remit it back for further consideration.
Alex Watts : If your friend wins then he will be able to apply for costs.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex Watts : You should note that 99% of cases are not reported and lawyers don't hear about every aspect.
Dear Ms Watts. Thanks. I was as interested in what lawyers are saying about the DBS as in the prospect judicial review. i take your point that lawyers don't hear about every aspect, but surely there is some information going around about the way its works. It seems to me to have an entirely misconceived understanding of risk assessment ( I have academic/probation background and know a thing or two about risk assessment) but i'm not sure that comes under the point of law that a judge might take into account - it seems to be designed-in to the way the DBS works, and putside of what might be considered in an individual case. But i'm not sure what the outcomes are for other people, or whether my friend's case is unique. Somehow, i doubt it, if it does risk assessment in the way it did it with him. A very short, tokenistic custodial sentence for a consenting homosexual offence - between a 17 year old and a 25 year old, before the age of homosexual consent was lowered, over 40 years ago - and a successful and crime-free life ever since - cannot possibly generate a high-risk score, and should not have been the basis of my friend's employer of 14 years being told/advised he could no longer employ him. The employer knew of the offence, as most people who have known my friend do, but simply fears adverse publicity if he continues to employ him. (This took place when the Jimmy Saville scandal was at its height) The DBS's own annual report is not helpful in trying to understand how they do risk assessment. The organisation is too new to have had academic research done on it - and seems to operate differently to the CRB and Safeguarding authority that it replaced. Is there a legal firm or organisation you can put me in touch with who knows about this area of work?
Alex Watts : The thing is this, the information recorded is accurate. It is then a matter for the employer what decision they take and what policy. Clear
Alex Watts : Clearly any recorded information which is wrong is cause for concern.
Alex Watts : But the information is either accurate or wrong.
Alex Watts : What is done with the DBS is a matter for the employer, not the service.
Alex Watts : They only provide a printout out of infromation. They have no power about what is done with it.
Alex Watts : It seems to me that this is not a DBS issue but one for the employer.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything else?
Thanks. Actually, in this instance the DBS did more than just provide information to the employer, which i was thinking was normal behaviour on their part. You have got me thinking about that. The information about the original offence is factually accurate - the employer knew that anyway - it's the suggestion that my friend still posed a risk after all these years that is contentious - it depends on the validity of the risk assessment method being used by the DBS. Lets leave it at that for now. Thanks for your help
Alex Watts : All the best.