Case of Terence – ‘Disqualification by association’ requirements having a negative impact on individuals without a criminal record

As a result of his conviction, Terence was required to notify his public protection officer of any new relationships that he started.

Shortly after meeting Lauren through friends, Terence disclosed his conviction to her and she agreed to go with him to the police station to meet his public protection officer. At that meeting, Lauren was asked where she worked and she confirmed that she was a receptionist at a local school.

When she arrived at work the next day, Lauren was told that she needed to see her line manager immediately at which time she was told that the school had been contacted by the local police station informing them that she was in a relationship with ‘somebody on the sex offenders register’. The school were of the opinion that as a result of the ‘disqualification by association’ (DbA) requirements, Lauren had a duty to inform the school of her new relationship and had acted dishonestly in not disclosing it to them. She was suspended until a full investigation had been undertaken.

Further reading around ‘disqualification by association’ made it clear to Terence that this did not apply to Lauren as she was employed in an administrative not a teaching role.

As the investigation continued Lauren became increasingly anxious about the time it was taking for the school to make a decision and also the impact that the investigation would have on her ability to secure work in the future. Realising that the stress and uncertainty were making her very ill, Lauren contacted the school and agreed to resign on the basis that the investigation was dropped and no record of it would be added to her employment history. The school agreed to these terms.

Lauren said:

“Although I knew that the DbA requirements did not apply to the job I was doing, I found it difficult to challenge a large organisation like the school who had the support of the Local Authority’s Designated Officer.”

Commenting on Lauren’s experience, Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said:

“The disclosure of Terence’s criminal record by the police clearly provoked a knee jerk reaction from the school who didn’t fully consider whether the legislation applied in this situation. It’s highly likely that after fully investigating the case, the school and the Local Authority’s Designated Officer would have found in Lauren’s favour. However, the stress of having to go through this kind of investigation often means that individuals will chose to walk away rather than challenge.”

 

Notes about this case

  1. This case relates to Unlock’s policy work on scrapping the ‘Disqualification by association’ regulations that apply to primary schools and other non-domestic childcare settings.
  2. We have practical guidance on Childcare Disqualification Regulations – Primary school teachers, nursery staff and others – ‘Disqualified by association’.
  3. Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
  4. Other policy cases are listed here.
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