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Sophie’s choice – “My only option is to resign…I am living in constant fear of being found out”


In the 1980’s I was convicted of two minor offences and given and Absolute Discharge. Two years later I got a job and started work.  I wasn’t asked to disclose if I had convictions, so I kept quiet. I thought that there was no point looking for trouble.

As my career progressed, I registered with the professional body.  Again, I didn’t disclose my convictions because I wasn’t asked to. In fact, I have never asked to do any type of criminal records check until very recently, when a new Human Resources Manager started with the organisation and my department to apply for an accreditation.

I know that my convictions will not be filtered under the new system because there are two of them, and only single offences are filtered, so both of my convictions will show up on a DBS check, even though they are now spent and twenty-eight years ago .

I really don’t feel I can have an informal discussion with my manager about my convictions because I am sure I will be sacked. There’s no-one at work I can turn to, and once you’ve let the cat out of the bag there’s no telling who will tell someone else. I’m very worried that my employer will inform the professional body, and I’m really afraid that they might even prosecute me for not disclosing my convictions earlier – even though I was not asked at the time – and that would just make everything a hundred times worse.

It seems to me that my only option is to resign, so that no-one will ever know.  But, at fifty-seven, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to get another job and will have to give up my career altogether. If I have to go through a DBS check it will be the end of my career, and not because of something I did while I was working, but because of something I did two years before I even started. Even if I try to take control of the process by raising the issue with HR, I’ll just be putting the first nail in the coffin of my own career.

There’s also no way I could go through that process and disclose my convictions and then have to leave without all my friends and colleagues finding out why. When people find out this sort of thing they immediately stop trusting you and treat you as if you’ve only just committed the crime, not that it was half a lifetime ago and you’re a completely different person now, living a decent life. And my colleagues would no longer respect me or value my judgement.

With the current funding situation, it seems likely that the organisation will be making people redundant at the end of the year, so even if I disclose and still get to keep my job for now, I might lose it later anyway, and I will have blown my own confidentiality for nothing and ruined my chances of finding something else.

I am living in constant fear of being found out, and facing a very uncertain future. It’s really stressful and isolating, and I just don’t know what to do.


*Note – As this is an ongoing case, details have been changed to protect the authors identity. 

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