A legal challenge begins of the policy requiring the retention of all criminal convictions until a person reaches 100 years of age. The women bringing the challenge were forced into prostitution as teenagers and have multiple criminal convictions for soliciting and loitering.
They had previously won a legal challenge of the operation of the Disclosure and Barring Scheme which required them to disclose these records to employers and others (R(QSA and ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Dept  EWHC 639 (Admin)). They are no longer required to show these records of their abuse and exploitation from many years back. However, the National Police Chief Council’s policy on deleting records requiring records to be held until the offender reaches the age of 100. This is despite the fact that many of the convictions would no longer be classed as a crime because the offence of soliciting and loitering was amended to exclude children under the Street Offences Act 1959.
The case which is being brought by the Centre for Women’s Justice against the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Information on the PNC is available to a wide range of public bodies and some private organisations, as well as to the police, CPS and courts. It can also be accessed by the Royal Mail, trading standards and credit checking organisations.
‘As a consequence of meeting a dangerous pimp when I was only 15 who forced me to sell sex for money, by the age of 17 I had 39 convictions for soliciting and loitering,’ commented Fiona Broadfoot, one of the women bringing the claim. ‘Despite escaping prostitution over thirty years ago, I am horrified that these records of my abuse and exploitation will be retained for another 50 years and be made available to so many agencies.’
‘Why should I continue to be judged and stigmatised so many years after I got away from the hellish life I entered as a teenager?’ said ‘Sam’, one of the women providing. Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the Claimants said: ‘What possible justification can there be for keeping such deeply personal, sensitive information on the PNC, particularly where our understanding of prostitution offences has moved forward so far and the women concerned would now be regarded as victims not criminals.’