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Abbie – How I challenged an enforced Subject Access Request (SAR) and kept my job

Abbie contacted our helpline for some advice after a director of the company she worked for had become aware of her convictions following a ‘Google’ search and had asked her to provide ‘proof’ that her convictions were spent.

Abbie explained that her director had become aware of the online information through another work colleague and had called her into a meeting to discuss them. Believing that she had no option but to ‘come clean’, she disclosed her convictions to the director but explained that as they were spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, legally, she didn’t need to disclose them, and they should be disregarded.

Abbie stated that her director was unhappy with her respons,e telling her that he felt she’d been dishonest. He asked that she get a copy of her Subject Access Request (SAR), thinking that would prove that her convictions were spent.

We advised Abbie that it was now a criminal offence for an employer to force her to do an SAR. However, they could carry out a basic DBS check which would come back ‘clean’, proving that her convictions were spent.

Abbie later informed us that she’d had a further meeting with her employers and given them Unlock’s information on enforced SAR. They requested a basic DBS check and took no further action when they realised that her convictions were spent.


This case demonstrates how some employers still believe that they can ask someone to show them their SAR, even though this is a criminal offence (referred to as enforced subject access). If an employer requires formal confirmation of an individual’s cautions or convictions then the correct procedure is to request the appropriate criminal record check.


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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