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Case of Kate – Qualified to work but old convictions are the barrier

At the age of 16, Kate took the decision to move out of her family home and began renting a room from somebody she’d met through a friend. After she’d been there for three months and, without any warning, she returned home from college to find that her landlady had thrown the majority of her possessions out of the house and onto the street.

Realising that not all of her possessions had been returned, Kate went back to the house to pick them up. This resulted in an argument with her former landlady and Kate leaving empty handed after the landlady started to physically attack her. Several days later her parents received a phone call from the police asking Kate to report to the police station as soon as possible.

Kate said:

“My father accompanied me but was not allowed in the interview room. We asked if I needed legal representation and was advised by the policeman that I would get home a lot quicker without it and that it wasn’t necessary. I gave the police a detailed and honest account of events but it was apparent that the woman whose room I had rented had not and I was subsequently arrested for common assault”.

In court Kate was found guilty of using violence to enter the premises and battery and had to pay compensation of £100.

That was over 10 years ago now. Since then, Kate has successfully completed a degree in social work at university. She has applied for several social work positions and been invited to interviews where she has been told that she was an outstanding candidate and been offered the job. However, as her convictions do not meet the eligibility for filtering (she has two) every job offer has been revoked as soon as she has disclosed her convictions.

Kate stated:

“I have two offences as part of one conviction which would be eligible for filtering if the system wasn’t limited to one conviction/offence. I want to work, I’m able to work, I miss working”.

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

“The fact that someone has two offences on their record should not be an automatic bar to them being filtered by the DBS. The ‘one conviction’ rule is a blunt instrument and it needs to be scrapped”.


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 disclosing criminal records to an employer.
  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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