Feb 05, 2020
Last year, the Centre for Women’s Justice led an application for a judicial review of the Government’s policy in relation to the retention, recording and disclosure of criminal convictions arising from soliciting offences. Early this year, they returned to court to continue this process. The Centre for Women’s Justice explain;
“Three women succeeded in persuading the court that disclosure of multiple convictions for soliciting and loitering offences, years after those convictions were spent, was disproportionate and therefore unlawful.
The government appealed and a hearing was fixed for January 2020. Weeks before the hearing, the government announced it was withdrawing its appeal. However, the women had cross- appealed on wider arguments, including that the recording and retention of these criminal records was unlawful and are arguing that the offence of ‘soliciting and loitering’ contrary to s1 Street Offences Act 1959 should NOT be a crime at all. The women bringing the claim, like most women in street prostitution, were exploited as teenagers into prostitution, where they were abused for a number of years before exiting. Most in street prostitution have multiple convictions under s1 Street Offences Act 1959 which has meant that when applying for a range of jobs or volunteering activity, DBS checks will result in their histories of prostitution being made known many years after they have left that life behind. They have now succeeded in their argument that they should not be required to disclose those records to employers and others. However, the records will continue to be held on the police national computer for up to 100 years and the so called ‘crime’ they were arrested for is still on the statute book”.
You can read the full update from the Centre for Women’s Justice here:
Elly at Beyond Support has supported one woman, through the judicial review process. In response to the news, Elly says: “It’s been for years since I first referred four women to the Centre of Women’s Justice to give evidence in this judicial review. This news is long awaited!
The women we supported were having to disclose past offences relating to soliciting. Often they had been coerced into prostitution as a teenager and many years later were having unnecessary humiliation when applying for alternative jobs which require DBS. This news means that women can truly move on from the past and address some of the barriers towards their freedom from the sex industry!”.
In addition, Beyond the Streets Affiliate Project One25 said “Fantastic news! ‘Sam’, a former One25 service user who was part of the battle, says:
“This is a complete vindication of all women/girls who have faced stigma, judgements and the repeated traumatic experience of having to disclose and discuss their catalogue of abuse and exploitation whenever a DBS is required!”
Women with a history of soliciting offences can access practical help via the Centre for Women’s Justice who will be providing a briefing note and template letter for any woman who have multiple convictions for this offence and wishes to apply for them to be filtered from disclosure.