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Historic convictions – I’m letting them stop me from working because I’m too ashamed to disclose them


Disclosing details of your criminal record is never easy but some people find it more difficult than others. Monica’s story shows what steps she’s taken to avoid having to disclose to an employer and, although we totally understand her reasons for doing so, sometimes you just have to have the courage to speak up. 



I don’t want to tell you what you already know, but young people do stupid things. You know what they say;

“Your convictions will follow you around

You’ll never get a good job

You’ll look over your shoulder all the time”

All these statements are true, but for me, I got away with it – sort of.

I didn’t have a great start in life. There was limited guidance in my life, I was in care from the age of 2 and didn’t go to a great school, leaving with no qualifications. I made my way through life doing basically what I wanted to do. Fighting was part of my language, so I used violence to settle disputes and disagreements. This worked for me amongst my peers, but not when I used the same strategy outside in the real world. People immediately called the police and I ended up with a conviction.

I managed to find employment in the public sector.  Don’t ask me how but my professional body wasn’t informed of my conviction. The years passed and I became more and more successful. I’d learned to slow down my speech, was careful not to swear and tried to learn not to use my eyes to challenge people.

For 30 years I worked hard and did well for myself until the rules for employment changed and people in the public sector jobs that I was doing were required to have a criminal record check every three years. I handed in my notice and effectively retired, I couldn’t run the risk of being found out.

I set up my own company and was immediately employed doing the same sort of work as before. As I was self-employed I didn’t have to be checked and so my past never come to light. However, after about 7 years I found that the rules were changing again and when I started to tender for contracts, I’d often be told that I’d need a criminal record check.

That’s when I turned to Unlock. I’d never spoken to anyone about my conviction but I wanted to get back into the profession that I loved, so I was prepared to talk about the past to get the advice I needed to help me. I looked at their website, I looked at the background of the people employed by them and took the plunge and contacted them. It was strange to be open about my conviction, to be able to ask anything I wanted and to not be judged. The advice was good and relevant but not what I wanted to hear. If I wanted to go back into a paid role in the profession I loved, I would have to be honest and open about my past, legally it would then be up to each organisation to decide if they thought a past mistake, 35 years before, was relevant today.

I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t confident to disclose my conviction, I felt cornered. The decision was made for me, I left the world of work, a move I would never have made on my own. I would have worked until I dropped, work defined me but I’m just not brave enough to put myself in a position where I have to be judged again.

Although I’m now effectively retired, I did get away with not disclosing my conviction…I’m just paying for it now.

By Monica (name changed to protect identity)


Useful links

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

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