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Fiona – Incorrect recording of my conditional caution by the police almost cost me my job

Fiona contacted our helpline for some information and advice around filtering and disclosure. She had received a caution for common assault in 2010 and had been told by the police at the time that it would be deleted after five years. She had subsequently discovered that her caution would remain on the Police National Computer until she was 100 years old. However, she had read about filtering and wanted to find out whether her caution would be eligible and whether she needed to disclose it as she had been offered a job as a teaching assistant in a local school.

We were able to confirm that Fiona’s caution would be eligible for filtering and therefore wouldn’t need to be disclosed to her employers.

A couple of months later Fiona contacted the helpline again. She had received her certificate from the DBS but was extremely concerned that not only did it have the wrong spelling of her name but was also still showing her caution. However, the caution had been disclosed under the conviction section and recorded as a conditional caution. Fiona was worried that her employers would withdraw the job offer once they had sight of her DBS certificate.

Fiona provided us with a copy of the certificate which seemed to suggest that the police had incorrectly recorded her caution as a conviction which would not be eligible for filtering for 11 years. We suggested that she contact the DBS appeals department and raise a dispute query with them. We advised Fiona not to hand over the certificate to the school even though they had been chasing her for it, until the issue had been rectified.

Approximately three weeks later Fiona got back in touch to say that the DBS had sent her a new certificate which was now blank and she had handed this on to the school.



This case shows that mistakes can be made by large organisations including the police. If you believe that something has been incorrectly recorded or hasn’t been filtered as you would have expected it to have been, it’s always worth raising a query with the organisation involved.

We’ve since received further examples where conditional cautions have not been filtered from standard or enhanced DBS checks despite being eligible. This seems to evidence a much broader issue with the way that conditional cautions are recorded on the PNC and we have raised this with the appropriate organisations.


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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