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Disclosing a conviction isn’t easy but it might be the best thing you ever do

Archie was seriously considering turning down a fantastic job offer after learning that his conviction would appear on his enhanced DBS certificate. However, advice from his dad gave him the confidence to disclose.


I’d been working for the NHS through an agency for approximately 2 years when I was offered the role on a permanent basis.

However after the initial feeling of euphoria it suddenly dawned on me that I might need to have a criminal record check. The agency had never done one and so I’d never had to disclose my criminal record.

I waited until I received the paperwork from HR and, as I’d expected they wanted to carry out an enhanced DBS check. I knew my conviction was about 6 years old but I had no idea whether it would show up on the DBS certificate. However after asking ‘Mr Google’ it seemed clear that enhanced DBS checks revealed everything and that I would have to disclose my conviction to the employer.

I’d only received a fine but I’d been convicted of urinating in a public place. I appreciate that it was a really stupid thing to do but I guess we all do stupid things when we’re younger. It’s definitely not something I’m proud of but I don’t think I would have been a problem explaining it to a new employer that I didn’t know.

However, the thought of disclosing to somebody I’d known for 2 years just filled me with dread. I had a great relationship with all my colleagues and I was really worried that they’d see me differently or not want to work with me. What if the job offer got revoked once HR had seen my enhanced certificate?

The more I thought about it the bigger the problem became until I’d convinced myself that the only option would be to turn the job down. That weekend I went to have Sunday lunch with my parents and when my dad asked me how my job was going I blurted everything out to him. As a no nonsense Yorkshireman all he could say was:

Get over yourself boy and grow a pair. Just go in there and tell them that when you were younger you were an idiot and did something really stupid.”

Good old dad!!

So on the Monday morning with dad’s voice still ringing in my ears I arranged to go and speak with HR. At that point I was feeling pretty confident but I could tell from the HR manager’s face that it wasn’t going to be quite so straightforward. After my disclosure she thanked me and said:

I’m surprised that this hasn’t come to light before but I’ll not make any decisions until I see your enhanced certificate.”

I walked out of the room feeling dejected and ashamed but, as the day work on, I got my fighting spirit back and was determined that whatever the decision was, I wouldn’t let it lie. I was the best person for the job and I’d fight for it.

I’m pleased to say that when the DBS certificate came back all was fine and I got my new employment contract from the NHS. However, I’m aware that things could have been very different:

  • If I was a new applicant, unknown to HR and the department it’s likely my application would have been rejected in favour of somebody with a clean DBS certificate.
  • If my dad hadn’t given me a good talking to I wouldn’t have gone through with the disclosure, I would have simply turned the job down.

Having decided to pursue a career in the NHS what would I have done if the job offer had been refused?

I received a conviction for urinating up a wall in a side street not realising that I could be seen by a woman and her young daughter. As I said above, I was young and stupid but I could just have easily got into a fight in a pub and been charged with common assault (or worse) or graphited my name in the local park and been convicted of criminal damage. It’s not the case that one offence is worse than the other but they can all be committed by young people who fail to think through the consequences of their actions. But, most of us grow up, most of us wise up. We get married, we have kids of our own. We become respectable, tax paying members of society.

So come on employers, try to see the person standing in front of you now and not the person on the DBS certificate.

And lastly, because I don’t say it often enough. Thanks dad for always keeping me grounded, for giving me a push when I needed it and for your unconditional love and support.

By Archie (name changed to protect identity)

Useful links

  • Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below.
  • Information – We have some practical self-help information on  Information on disclosing criminal records to employers.
  • Discuss – There are some interesting discussions on this issue on our online forum.

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