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Alisha – Don’t be too honest if you don’t need to be

Alisha contacted our helpline as she needed some advice around disclosure prior to an interview that she’d been invited to attend.

Alisha explained that she had received a caution for shoplifting approximately 13 years ago and, due to the nature of her work, she had always needed a DBS check. Her caution had always shown up on the certificate and she’d made the decision therefore to always disclose at the earliest possible opportunity. This had resulted in a mixture of results – some positive and some negative.

In her previous job she had disclosed her caution at interview and successfully secured the job. Her employer told her that although it had made no difference to them, they appreciated how upfront and honest she had been.

Alisha said that she’d contacted us a few months previously and had been told that under new legislation, her caution would be eligible for filtering and that she had no need to disclose it for jobs requiring a basic, standard or enhanced check.

Alisha told us that this latest job was her dream job – she really wanted it. However, she was very worried about answering questions about her caution and didn’t feel that she could bring herself to essentially ‘lie’. She thought that in the circumstances, she would be better off telling the employer everything.

We advised Alisha that as her caution would be filtered and would not show on a DBS certificate then she had ‘the legal right to lie’. We explained to her that in the past, voluntary disclosure had worked well for her and it could be that this new employer would deal with her disclosure in the same way. However, there was always a chance that they could withdraw the job offer and there would be little that Alisha could do.

The helpline advisor that spoke to her said that if he were in her shoes, he would not disclose.

Alisha contacted us a week or so later and told us that the interview had gone well. The employer did ask her a question about any cautions/convictions but Alisha told us that she had ‘managed to stay strong and answered “No”. She’d just received a phone call from the employer letting her know that she had been successful.

Alisha stated:


‘I really can’t thank Unlock enough for the help they gave me. If I hadn’t called you before my interview I would definitely have disclosed my caution, even though I didn’t have to. I’ll never know what would have happened if I had told them but when Unlock planted the seed that the job offer could be withdrawn, I knew it was too big a risk to take’.



Although it’t true to say that many people disclose their criminal record and an employer is willing to look beyond it, often they won’t, and as an applicant it’s difficult to judge in advance. This case shows the value to taking advantage of the legal position – if you don’t have to legally disclose, our advice is normally that you shouldn’t.


We have practical guidance on to disclose or not to disclose on our information site.

We have practical guidance on the filtering process on our information site.

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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