Case study – Pippa – “Knowing what an employer would see about my criminal record made it much easier to disclose my conviction”

Pippa recently contacted our helpline as she needed some disclosure advice prior to completing a job application form.

Pippa explained that she was applying for a job as a teaching assistant in a local school but couldn’t remember the date or the details of her conviction. She was therefore worried about giving the school incorrect information.

At the moment, you can’t get a copy of your own standard or enhanced check, so if that’s the level that the jobs you’re looking for involve, instead you need to get a copy of your police record, known as a Subject Access Request (SAR). We suggested that Pippa apply to ACRO for this, which would provide her with a print-out of everything that formed part of her criminal record. We advised her to disclose nothing to the school until she was in receipt of this and to contact us again once she’d received her SAR. We would be in a better position to give disclosure advice once we had more details.

A month later, Pippa forwarded us a copy of her SAR which showed one conviction from 2005 which had three counts to it. We advised her that due to her having three counts under the one conviction, this would not be removed from her enhanced check (because it wouldn’t be eligible for a technical process known as ‘filtering’) and that she would have to disclose it to the school.

Pippa confirmed that she had been invited to attend an interview and the school had sent her a letter stating:

“As an organisation using the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to assess applicant’s suitability for positions of trust, X school complies fully with the DBS Code of Practice and undertakes to treat all applicants for positions fairly. We undertake not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a disclosure on the basis of conviction or other information revealed. 

At interview, or in a separate discussion, we ensure that an open and measured discussion takes place on the subject of any offences or other matter that might be relevant to the position. Failure to reveal information that is directly relevant to the position sought could lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment. We undertake to discuss any matter revealed in a disclosure with the person seeking the position before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment.”

We advised Pippa that the school appeared to have a policy and seemed to take their risk assessments seriously. We suggested that she prepared a self-disclosure statement which would (a) help her to disclose her conviction and (b) was something she could leave with the school as evidence of her disclosure.

Pippa contacted us a few weeks later to let us know that she’d been offered the job with the school and would be starting work at the beginning of the new term.

Pippa stated:

“As my conviction was quite old I’d forgotten a lot of the details. The advice to get my SAR was fantastic and allowed me to see exactly what an employer would see, this really helped with my disclosure. I had my risk assessment after the interview and the school told me that it wasn’t relevant to a teaching assistant job. I’m really not sure whether I’d have got the same result if it hadn’t been for the advice and support given to me by Unlock.”

Lessons

If you’re unsure about the date or details of your conviction(s), then it’s important that you get this information before you start applying for jobs. This can help you to make sure that you don’t under or over disclose your criminal record.

This case highlights the failings in the current filtering system as Pippa’s conviction would have been filtered were it not for her having more than one count.

On a positive note, it’s good to see employers like this one having very clear policies on their recruitment of people with convictions who carry out effective risk assessments which enable them to disregard anything which isn’t relevant to the job.

Links

Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

Published September 2019

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