Court delivers important judgment on prostitution and criminal records


Re: R (QSA & Ors) v SSHD & Anor [2018] EWHC 407 (Admin)

Each of the claimants in this case had been convicted, many years ago, of multiple offences of loitering or soliciting in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution, contrary to the Street Offences Act 1959, s 1. They contend that the recording and retention of information concerning their convictions, and the operation of the statutory provisions which require them to disclose those convictions if seeking particular types of employment, were unlawful.

The case succeeded on one ground, which concerned the multiple conviction rule as per the provisions in the Exceptions Order 1975 and the Police Act 1997 and its incompatibility with ECHR, art 8. The Court accepted that the claimants had all suffered a handicap in the labour market, and embarrassment and humiliation, because of the operation of the multiple conviction rule. In the Court’s view it ought to be possible “for Parliament to devise a scheme which more fairly balances the public interest with the rights of an individual applicant for employment in relevant areas of work”. It concluded that “under PA 1997 and under the Exceptions Order, the application of the multiple conviction rule to the circumstances of this case results in an interference with the claimants’ art 8 rights which is neither in accordance with the law nor necessary in a democratic society. To that extent, the schemes are unlawful”.

Karon Monaghan QC was involved in this case.