Case of Wesley – Disclosure of old convictions means people continue to be haunted by past mistakes

At the onset of puberty Wesley had a lot of mixed feelings about his sexuality. Although he can remember attending sex education classes, he says there was very little information about being gay and this made him feel ‘lost and alone’.

For a while, he explored his sexuality with a friend of his brothers who was five years younger than him. However, a few years later and long after the abuse had stopped, he confessed both his sexuality and the abuse that had taken place to a church minister. The church minister subsequently informed the police.

Wesley co-operated fully with the police investigation and when the case went to court, he was convicted of several counts of indecent assault and received a 12 month community order.

Sometime later whilst working for a company running events for youths, Wesley was asked to apply for a personal licence. Not knowing what would appear on his criminal record certificate, he explained to his employers about his conviction and the circumstances surrounding it. His employers agreed that they would make no decision about his future until they’d seen the certificate. However, once they’d had sight of it, Wesley was forced to resign as his employers believed that he posed a risk to their clients.

As part of his pre-sentencing report, Wesley had been assessed by a well-respected child protection charity who had stated that:

“He would not appear to be a risk to any vulnerable group in any ordinary social or work setting.”

Despite sharing the report with his employers it did nothing to allay their fears.

The actions of his employers was a devastating blow to Wesley. He’d had his career path mapped out and now had to face the fact that if he wanted to continue to pursue this type of work, he’d have to face the fear of future criminal record checks. Wesley decided to change direction as he didn’t feel that he could face what had happened when he was 13 constantly coming back to haunt him.

Wesley stated:

“I was a gay teenager in a world with little support. I did do something wrong but I was honest, open and worked hard to do everything asked of me by the judiciary service. I am now very nervous about the ordeal of dealing with a disclosure for seemingly disconnected events. I am really worried about getting a visa for travel (although I haven’t tried) and I have avoided promotions when a DBS check might be required.

 

As a law-abiding adult I’m baffled that something I did at age 13 would create complications so far into my adult live.”

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

“This case shows the ongoing impact of receiving a criminal record in your youth. Sadly there is currently no way of having convictions removed from DBS certificates where there is more than one and people like Wesley will continue to be punished as a man for something they did as a boy”.

 

Notes about this case

  1. This case relates to Unlock’s policy work on challenging the DBS ‘filtering’ process.
  2. We have practical guidance on filtering of spent cautions/convictions – a simple guide.
  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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