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Wes – Having a better understanding of how much access an employer could have to my criminal record gave me the confidence to challenge an employer’s request

Wes contacted our helpline for some advice as he was concerned about how much access he should give a potential employer to his criminal record.

Wes explained that he’d applied for a job as a university lecturer following an approach by the Head of Faculty. He knew that as his role would bring him into contact with some students who were under the age of 18, he would need an enhanced DBS check, and he’d provided the university with a written disclosure statement to explain a conviction he’d received in 2015 and which he knew would appear on the certificate immediately he was offered the job. Wes had assumed that he would be asked to attend a meeting with the university to discuss these in further detail.

Wes told us that he was contacted by the university again and was asked to provide them with signed authorisation to allow them to have copies of his probation reports. Although he wanted to cooperate with the university as much as he could, he thought that this request was excessive and, as he’d had very few dealings with probation (he’d received a short community order) he didn’t think that they could add anything more to what he’d already disclosed.

We explained to Wes that legally the university could apply for an enhanced DBS check which they’d already done. If they wanted further information regarding the conviction, then good practice would normally be to invite Wes to a meeting and ask any questions they felt necessary to allow them to carry out a proper risk assessment. We advised him to refuse to give his consent but suggested that he give the university Unlock’s contact details as we would be happy to support them in this specific situation.

A member of the university’s HR department subsequently contacted us. We explained how the university could use the disclosure statement provided by Wes to carry out an initial assessment of his criminal record. If this assessment flagged up any particular concerns or the university felt it was necessary to have a more detailed disclosure, then this should be done in the first instance by way of a face-to-face meeting with the applicant.

Wes contacted us a couple of months later and told us:

After I’d spoken to Unlock I emailed the HR department at the university explaining that as I’d had very little contact with my probation officer, I didn’t feel he could add anything to my disclosure. I offered to meet with a member of the HR department if that would help them to make a decision.


I knew that Unlock also spoke with HR and between us we managed to convince them that I was the best person for the job. They offered me the lecturers role and I started work at the university 3 weeks ago.


It was great to have the support of an organisation like Unlock. I didn’t want the university to think that I was being obstructive but I really didn’t think that contacting my probation officer would have added any value to my disclosure.



Information that’s disclosed on formal criminal record checks can be quite limited and trying to interpret this can often be difficult for an employer. Providing a disclosure statement which includes details of your offence and the circumstances surrounding it can give employers a better understanding of what happened.

Sometimes, a probation officer or other organisation that you’ve been receiving support from can provide further information or documentation to help reinforce what you’ve disclosed but, their involvement should be your choice. Generally, you’ll be the best person to explain what happened, why it happened and what you’ve done since.


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.

Published March 2020


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