24 November 2014

Data protection: enforced subject access requests

Demanding CRB checks now an offence

Employers and service providers requiring individuals to obtain and disclose certain protected data, such as criminal records checks or barring records, will commit an offence from 1 December 2014.
Only employers in certain sensitive occupations can lawfully obtain enhanced criminal record checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service (still often called "enhanced CRB checks"). Some employers and service providers, such as insurance companies, have developed a practice of insisting that applicants exercise their rights under the Data Protection Act to obtain their own sensitive personal data, then provide a copy of the report to the company. The report might be from the Disclosure and Barring Service (which replaced the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority), the police or the government.

Many businesses will have to change their practices as a result. Some unfortunately have not realised that rights to privacy are now real and are here to stay, even relating to important matters such as serious criminal records or preventing insurance fraud.

There are exceptions where the company is authorised by law to obtain the information or where obtaining them is in the public interest, but in most cases it will no longer be possible to circumvent the restrictions on who can access this sensitive data.

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