Skip to main content

Ulrik – Applying for a degree in medicine doesn’t mean universities are exempt from disclosure laws

Ulrik contacted our helpline for some advice following an application he’d made to study medicine at university.

He explained to our helpline advisor that when he’d applied to the university he’d been asked to declare any spent or unspent cautions or convictions that would show on a criminal record check. Ulrik ticked the “Yes” box and disclosed the details of a caution for harassment which he’d received approximately six years previously.

On receipt of his application the university asked Ulrik to attend a fitness to practice panel meeting to discuss the details of his caution in further detail. Following the meeting his application was refused on the basis of his criminal record with the university stating that:

“He posed a risk and there was little evidence that he would not be a risk in the future.”

Soon after receiving the university’s decision Ulrik became aware that his caution for harassment was eligible for filtering and would not appear on his enhanced DBS check.

Wondering whether he had any grounds for an appeal, Ulrik contacted a barrister who told him that for medical courses, universities were able to take filtered cautions and convictions into account.

After listening to his concerns, our advisor confirmed that Ulrik’s caution would be filtered from standard and enhanced checks. Even though he had disclosed it, this had been done in error and should have been disregarded by the university. The advisor suggested that it may be worth him appealing the university’s decision as they could potentially be in breach of GDPR and data protection legislation.

Ulrik put his appeal in writing to the university drawing attention to the legislation surrounding filtering, namely The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Record Certificates: Relevant Matters) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013. He also provided links to the General Medical Council’s website which provided guidance around filtered cautions and convictions and stated:

“If it is protected (filtered) it does not need to be declared when you apply for registration. If you do disclose a protected offence, we can’t take it into account when we assess your application for registration”.

Several weeks later Ulrik contacted Unlock again to say:

“The university have upheld my appeal. I can’t tell you how happy I am with the outcome. Thank you so much for all your help.”



This case demonstrates how colleges and universities are not always aware of the filtering rules and can mistakenly take into account convictions that they’re not legally entitled to consider. The worst offenders seem to be universities offering courses in medicine who, for some reason, believe that filtering is not applicable to them. 

Notes about this case study

  1. Ulrik was supported by Unlock’s helpline.
  2. We have practical guidance on the filtering of spent cautions/convictions.
  3. Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

Help support us now