Teresa contacted our helpline as she needed advice following a meeting with her employers to discuss an anonymous ‘tip off’ they’d received that she was “a drug addict with convictions for drug offences”.
Teresa explained that in the past she had taken drugs and had also received a caution for possession. However, as her caution had been eligible for filtering from her enhanced DBS certificate, she hadn’t disclosed it to her employer.
During the meeting, Teresa’s employers said that they felt she should have disclosed any cautions or convictions to them at the start of her employment and they would be referring the matter to the local safeguarding team. They told her that her criminal record was likely to bring the organisation into disrepute if customers/clients became aware of it. Feeling pressurised to ‘tell the truth’, she disclosed her caution for a drug offence 13 years previously.
Teresa was extremely worried about her job and also being referred to the safeguarding team and believed she had been dealt with unfairly. She wanted clarification that her employers had acted unlawfully in asking her about her filtered caution.
Our advisor confirmed that as her caution had been filtered from her enhanced DBS certificate and was therefore ‘protected’, she had done nothing wrong by not disclosing it. We explained that even though she had disclosed it, her employers should have immediately disregarded it. By keeping a record of this caution, they could potentially be breaching the Data Protection Act 2018.
Teresa contacted us several weeks later to let us know that she had kept her job.
“Having been given the correct information and advice from Unlock, I felt a lot more confident about the situation and knew that I had to stand up for myself. I went back to my employers to discuss the matter and the situation has now been rectified.”
This case demonstrates how employers can often react very quickly to information they come across without considering whether it’s something they should be taking into account. In this case, Teresa’s caution should have been disregarded and no further action taken.
However, with the correct information and advice, it is possible to challenge employers and get them to deal appropriately with criminal record data.
- Practical information: Filtering of spent cautions and convictions – A detailed guide
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.