RCN wins legal case to ensure nursing staff are treated fairly by police

Published on Monday, 19 November 2012 10:47
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

The RCN's legal team has successfully fought to ensure nursing staff who have been wrongly accused of criminal offences are not at risk of being turned down for future employment.

Every member of the nursing profession must have an Enhanced Criminal Records Certificate (ECRC). It can be hugely concerning for nursing staff to think of a situation in which allegations made against them, which were either minor errors in nursing practice or wholly untrue, are disclosed by the police to future employers.

Under old Home Office guidance, a police officer was able to record any previous allegations against an individual, regardless of whether there was any evidence to back up these allegations. The RCN considered this to have the potential to be immensely damaging to the careers of nursing staff who have been wrongly accused in the workplace, as it may prevent re-employment.

The RCN therefore took the Home Office to court and successfully challenged the right of the police to include spurious claims with no evidence in ECRC checks. As a result the RCN was asked by the Home Office to help draft new guidance which has recently been published.

Jonathan Green, RCN Senior Legal Officer, said: "I am delighted that the RCN has been successful in changing the Government's guidance which had the potential to be entirely unfair on nursing staff and put them in the position of being out of work for no reason. The RCN's successful legal challenge will be of significant benefit to RCN members and help prevent cases like Nurse J's which we won very recently."

Nurse J – an RCN member - was wrongly accused of a criminal offence and therefore at risk of not being re-employed. The RCN took Nurse J's case to the High Court, and the judge quashed the decision made by Devon and Cornwall Police to disclose allegations made against Nurse J, concluding that these allegations were insufficiently serious or reliable. This successful case has ensured Nurse J is treated fairly and proportionately by the police, and will not be prevented from future employment in relation to these allegations.

Source: ©RCN

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