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Nick – Be really clear about your criminal record before you start applying for work as you may disclose something you don’t need to

Nick contacted our helpline as he wanted some help and reassurance over a situation he’d found himself in with a new employer.

Nick told us that when he was growing up, he’d ‘got in with the wrong crowd’ and received several cautions and convictions. They were all for very minor things but he felt very ashamed and embarrassed about them as they did not reflect the person he was now.

Nick explained that he’d recently started working in a warehouse but when he applied for the job, he hadn’t disclosed his criminal record. However, he’d been working for two weeks and had been told by the company trainer that his criminal record check would be back at the end of the week and, if there was anything on it, they’d ‘get rid’ of him.

Nick told us that he was really enjoying the job and was worried that he would be sacked. He’d tried to find out whether he should have originally disclosed his criminal record but his research had given him conflicting information and he therefore felt that the only option open to him was to telephone the company’s HR department and disclose his conviction to them. He’d had the conversation with them and was now of the opinion that he may have made the situation worse and wanted clarification on his position from us.

We explained to Nick that all of his cautions and convictions were spent and that his basic disclosure certificate (which is the one that the company had applied for) would come back ‘blank’. We told Nick that he should do nothing further until he received the certificate. If, following his disclosure, the HR department had made any notes about his criminal record then, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, they should not use this information to make any recruitment decisions based on his criminal record.

Nick contacted us several months later to let us know that his basic disclosure had come back ‘clean’ and that the HR department had confirmed his appointment in writing. He told us that despite his previous convictions seeming to have been disregarded by the warehouse, he felt that he was treated differently to other employees who had started work at the same time as he had. Although he had no proof that this was as a result of his convictions, he felt that he just ‘didn’t fit in’.

Nick told us that as a result of now understanding that his convictions were spent and that nothing would show on a basic disclosure, he was able to apply for other jobs confident about what he needed to disclose. He had subsequently applied for another warehouse job, ticked the ‘No’ box asking about criminal record on the application form and had been working successfully for the new company for approximately 3 weeks.

Nick said:

“In hindsight, I should have found out whether my convictions were spent before I started applying for work. Knowing that I didn’t have to disclose my criminal record gave me a lot more confidence when I came to apply for my next job”



This case highlights the importance of knowing what forms part of your criminal record before you start applying for work. This means that there will be less chance of your over or under disclosing. You can apply for your own basic disclosure to know which convictions are currently unspent.


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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