In 2008, after enduring more than a year of emotional abuse from her partner, the police came knocking on Teresa’s door. She had never had any dealings with the police before and she had no idea why they were there. They informed her that her partner had accused her of assault; she had pushed him out of the bedroom door the night before.
The police asked Teresa whether she was suffering from any mental health issues and she admitted that she’d recently had a number of suicide attempts that required hospitalisation. She doesn’t remember much after that apart from tears and complete detachment, but ultimately she was cautioned for ABH.
Skip forward 8 years and, having completed a degree in psychology, Teresa applied for her first job. She had a great interview and couldn’t believe her luck when she was offered the job. As she needed to have a DBS check and knew that the caution wouldn’t be eligible for filtering, she arranged a meeting with the HR manager to discuss her criminal record. Teresa hadn’t thought about what had happened for many years; she’d moved on, she’d completed her therapy and done well. But as she started to explain the situation, it all came flooding back to her. She spent the next week in a state of anxiety, having flashbacks and regrets, reliving memories. It was a totally overwhelming experience. Then at the end of the week she got a call from the employer, informing her that they’d decided to revoke the job offer, as they felt they could not trust her to be alone with vulnerable clients. Thankfully Teresa battled on and she is now working in the NHS but it has not been an easy road.
“I recently applied to the police to have my caution deleted from the PNC as I don’t feel that the ongoing implication of accepting it was properly explained to me at the time. I was a victim of abuse and struggling with a mental health condition. Sadly the police have refused to delete it.
I’m no longer a victim and I no longer struggle with a mental health condition. But this caution will follow me for life. I might be very capable and good at my job but I’ll have to revisit this every time I have a DBS check. When does the past become the past?”
Notes about this case
- This case relates to Unlock’s policy work on challenging the DBS ‘filtering’ process.
- Teresa’s story was originally published on our online magazine, theRecord.
- We have practical guidance on filtering of spent cautions/convictions – a simple guide.
- Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
- Other policy cases are listed here.