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Trying to forget my criminal record almost cost me a job

Like a lot of people who receive a criminal record, Georgina tried to forget all about her conviction and simply move on with her life. However, applying for jobs in the NHS meant that she needed to disclose details of her past conviction, and being unclear about the precise details made her employer question her honesty. 


I received my conviction in 2007 following an argument with my partner. At the time I had two small children and therefore only worked part time for the NHS. This was the only time I’d ever been in trouble with the law.

I didn’t tell my employers about my conviction and merely carried on with my job. However, I carried the shame of it and kept it a secret for many years.

As my children grew up, I started to feel that I wanted more from a job but I was fearful of applying for something new, especially within the same NHS Trust as I knew that I would need a new DBS check and my conviction would show up. This meant that potentially I could lose my existing job.

I became really depressed and started to attend counselling sessions and when I told my counsellor of my fear of applying for a new job, she told me to just go for it.

I’d totally blanked out the details of my conviction but decided that if I was going to look for a new job I should find out exactly what I’d been convicted of. I started to search the internet when I came across Unlock and gave them a ring to get more advice. They advised me it wasn’t possible to apply for your own enhanced DBS check (which is the level of check that the job would involve) but that instead, I could apply for a copy of my police record which would set out the date and details of my conviction. They also advised me that, if asked at application, not to necessarily disclose all the details of my conviction on an application form but to give brief details and then go into more detail face to face, possibly at the interview stage. They suggested that I leave a written record of my disclosure so that there was evidence that I’d disclosed it.

With the benefit of this information, I applied for a post with another NHS Trust and was invited to an interview. The interview went really well and despite not having received a copy of my police record I disclosed what I could remember about my criminal record. To my surprise I was offered the job, subject to satisfactory references and a DBS check.

I nervously waited for my DBS certificate to drop through the letterbox but before it did, I received a copy of my police record which showed a different disposal to the one that I had disclosed to my potential employer. I started to worry that this might cause a real problem with my new employer and from what I’d read online, I discovered that this could be enough for an employer to withdraw the job offer.

Several weeks later my DBS certificate arrived and I arranged a time to meet with the HR department to drop it off. Along with my certificate, I took a written disclosure letter which explained the mistake that I’d made at the interview. I handed both over to the HR assistant and she told me that she’d need to speak to her manager because of the discrepancy. I had to wait 48 hours until I received a call from the HR Director who told me that she had read my letter and totally understood how the confusion had occurred. She told me that as a result of my honesty they still wanted me to start work with them.

I’ve now started my new job and I know that I have a bright future ahead of me. My advice to anyone is never give up. There are people out there that care and want to help and are willing to look beyond a criminal record.

By Georgina (name changed to protect identity)


A comment from Unlock

Employers will often ask you for details of your criminal record, and if the information you disclose is not accurate, this could cause you problems at a later stage.

We would always advise that you find out what’s contained on your criminal record to enable you to disclose the correct information when you’re asked. This will prevent you from disclosing inaccurate information, disclosing too much information or not disclosing what you are legally obliged to disclose.

However, this type of case is also why we think the DBS should provide a way for people to be able to find out which cautions and convictions will be disclosed on an enhanced check, so that they can make sure they disclose accurately and honestly, while at the same time not disclosing anything that would now be filtered.


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