Case study – Wendy – Historic minor conviction from 22 years ago caused problems securing a job

Wendy contacted our helpline following the offer of a teaching role in a local school. She’d just received her enhanced DBS certificate and was shocked to see that a conviction she’d received 22 years ago was disclosed on it.

Wendy explained that prior to applying for the job she’d contacted the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) who’d advised her that, based upon the information she’d provided, her conviction would be eligible for filtering and wouldn’t need to be disclosed to any potential employers as it wouldn’t appear on her enhanced certificate.

However, whilst her enhanced DBS certificate showed only one conviction, there were 3 counts of fraud which meant that under the current filtering rules it would never be eligible for filtering from standard or enhanced DBS checks.

We advised Wendy that she would have to hand her DBS certificate into the school but gave her advice around the best way of disclosing the conviction.

Following her disclosure to the headmaster, Wendy contacted us again informing us that the meeting had not gone well and that the headmaster had suggested that she’d been dishonest in not disclosing the conviction rather than it being an innocent mistake as she’d explained to him.

The headmaster did however agree to contact both Unlock and the DBS for further information. We were able to confirm to him that based upon the information Wendy had provided (that she only had one conviction) we had informed her that her conviction would be eligible for filtering and that she didn’t need to disclose it. We explained how we’d had many callers to our helpline who hadn’t realised that for the purposes of filtering, each ‘count’ was dealt with as a separate conviction and individuals who’d assumed that their conviction was eligible for filtering had subsequently realised that this was not the case.

Wendy had a further meeting with the headmaster and stated:

“He asked me about my 22 year old conviction and I had to go through a period of my life which I would rather forget about. He also asked me if I was sorry for what I had done and he had to conduct a safeguarding assessment as he had to think of the children. This made me feel terrible, because I am a good person and my conviction was 22 years ago and I have moved forward since then.”

At the end of the meeting the headmaster had stated that he’d let Wendy know of his decision in a few days time. She heard nothing for a week but, after contacting the school had been told that she’d got the job and could start the following day.

 

Lessons

This case demonstrates how important it is to know exactly what’s on your criminal record and to have a good understanding of how the filtering system works. You’ll then be clear on what will appear on your standard/enhanced DBS check and what you’ll need to disclose to an employer.

We don’t believe that the current filtering system is fit for purpose and needs to be changed. Although Wendy’s conviction was 22 years ago, many employers will find it difficult to consider anything appearing on a DBS certificate in a fair and proportionate way.

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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.

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