As someone with a record, I often feel completely isolated. Going public with my past carries a huge risk – as do enhanced criminal record disclosures. For example, I work in a respected ‘status’ role in higher education within a niche subject with a small circle of experts, employers and colleagues. The same people that would process an enhanced disclosure would be the same people that I work with. It is a thought that motivates my avoidance of certain jobs, even though I would otherwise not seek to conceal my past among friends and family. I have thus paid over and over for what were – in the field of crimes – petty actions.
I do think the current employment legislation for ex-offenders needs radical reform. It is set completely against the employee and places too much power (and power to abuse) into the hands of employers. The ‘official’ guidance for ex-offenders is that after a certain amount of time, spent convictions should not impede your life in a major way. This is so inaccurate I do not know where to begin.
Since my offences, I have served my country in the armed services – with two tours of active duty under my belt – gained a BA, MA and PhD and published in respected academic journals. I have also lectured and taught at one of the country’s leading universities. However, the current enhanced criminal records disclosure procedure leaves me terrified. I have avoided about 80 per cent of the employment opportunities that are open to me. I suffer frequent bouts of unemployment because my research field involves fixed-term contracts and I select jobs that do not involve an enhanced CRB.
This is becoming increasingly difficult because I believe employers are abusing the enhanced disclosure process and using it to vet employees. In short the whole system of dealing with ‘reformed offenders’ is out of tune with reality and the structure of society. It does not affect the ‘convicted’ elite of society or repeat offenders; it only serves to disable, impede and waste a massive cohort of British society who I trying to move on with honest lives.
I came to Unlock because I am tired of running away from my past and giving in to a system primed to knock me down. Unlock has been a critical first step in this process. It has provided me with clear, unambiguous guidance. As far as I am aware it is the only body/charity/website that offers the type of detail that is necessary for me to go forward. Knowledge is power – and personal empowerment.