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Story Type: Your Stories

A lifetime of helping people – don’t hold this one mistake against me

Job refusedMy life hasn’t always been easy. I’ve seen some real tragedy; not least my husband’s suicide which then led to my receiving a criminal record.

I can’t begin to explain what was going on in my head following my husbands suicide. There were days when I thought my heart would break and I struggled to get out of bed and other days when I felt angry at what he had done. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and this ultimately led to me getting into real difficulty with the benefits office.

My conviction isn’t something that I’m proud of but it happened and I can’t change the past. I guess you just have to learn from your mistakes and make sure you don’t repeat them.

I’ve worked all my life in a variety of jobs, a lot of them being in the care sector. I’ve always been very upfront and honest with employers about my conviction, never shying away from disclosing. Employers always want to know more and I’ve always taken the view that if it helps them to made a decision then I’ll tell them whatever they need to know. In the majority of cases, my conviction hasn’t caused me any problems.

I was excited beyond belief when in May 2013, I read about the introduction of new government legislation around the filtering of convictions from DBS checks. Sadly, the excitement didn’t last long when I discovered that despite only having one conviction, I had more than one count which automatically made my offence ineligible for filtering. It certainly would have made things easier for me if I didn’t have to disclose my conviction, but I didn’t let this get me down.

So onwards and upwards. I decided that now would be the time to turn my hand to something different and I applied for a job as an NVQ Assessor in Health and Social Care.

Before too long I’d been invited to an interview and, as always, I explained that I had a conviction and how it had come about. I felt that I’d built up a good rapport with the interviewer and I was over the moon when he told me that my conviction wouldn’t be a problem saying:

You’ve been upfront, you’ve not tried to hide it and, it was a long time ago’

The following week, I was invited to meet up with the Regional Manager. We discussed training dates and I had my photograph taken for my ID badge. It was coming up to Christmas and I thought this might hold up my DBS check, so I felt that realistically I’d probably start work towards the end of January.

Then, out of the blue, I received an email stating that my DBS certificate had come back and, as it ‘wasn’t clean’ my application could go no further. Apparently the organisation had a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards people with convictions.

I was stunned. I’d disclosed my conviction at the very first opportunity, I had extensive practical experience and relevant qualifications. I felt angry that my time had been wasted but also totally deflated. I wanted to give up and hide away.

I’ve always considered myself to be a strong individual but my confidence and self-esteem were shot to bits. I didn’t know what to do next. This one negative experience seemed to outweigh all the positives in my life.

Then, whilst searching the internet one night, I came across Unlock. I didn’t feel that I had anything to lose so, I put pen to paper and set out my experience. I didn’t expect them to do anything but I’d read that they wanted to challenge the Government’s filtering legislation and I thought I’d add my name to their campaign.

Some time later, into my inbox popped an email from Unlock. They asked me for some more information, said they might be able to help me. This was all it took to fire me up again. My confidence returned and I knew that I needed to do something different – something totally different. So I applied to university to become a student and my application was accepted.

Unlock wrote to the NVQ company highlighting their poor recruitment practice and how they had contravened the DBS Code of Practice in they way they’d dealt with me. They received a letter back stating that there had been a miscommunication issue and that they didn’t have a zero tolerance policy! I’ve not pursued a role with this company any further as I’m of the firm belief that I wouldn’t want to work for an organisation that had this type of attitude towards me, but hopefully it might help others in the future.

I made one bad mistake when my world was in crisis, but I’ve actually devoted the rest of my life trying to help others. I’m determined that this is what I’ll continue to do.

By Angie (name changed to protect identity)


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The Google Effect – You can be forgotten!

I’d just started a new relationship when I sat my girlfriend down and disclosed my conviction to her. Out of interest, we decided to check Google to see if we could find out any information about my conviction on there – it was spent so I’d presumed there wouldn’t be anything. Well, imagine my shock and horror when it came up right in front of me.

I’d been looking to start a new business and I was now really really worried that people who I’d be working for would be able to Google me and see everything about my past. How would these people see me now? Would they still want to work with me? How could this be fair? If an employer did a basic criminal record check on me nothing would show up but because of Google, my spent conviction was still splashed all over the web even though I hadn’t legally had to disclose it for about six months.

How would I be able to move on with my life knowing that anybody could see my conviction on the web and then make a judgement about me, even though I was rehabilitated and had moved on with my life?

Luckily I found Unlock. They were really sympathetic and understood the impact of the so-called ‘Google Effect’. They informed me that as my conviction was spent, I should write to Google and request that they remove the link. They even helped me to draft the letter to Google ensuring that it contained the relevant information to back up my request. I set out in my letter that my conviction was spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and that the information held about me was irrelevant, outdated and inappropriate.

I sent a similar letter to the website that the article appeared on.

Imagine my joy when I received replies back from Google and the website stating that they were happy to remove my links from the web.  Now when I do a search on my name, nothing comes up. I feel that I can move forward with my life not having to worry.

I would recommend this that anyone who has a spent conviction and is in the same position as I was. Write to Google and request your link is removed. After all, we should all have the right to move on from our past mistakes.

By Julian (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 the google-effect for people with convictions on our information hub.
  • Discuss this issue – There are some interesting discussions related to this from people with convictions on our online forum
  • Policy work – Read about the policy work Unlock is doing on the google-effect

Barriers to education – see the person, not the offence


This petition was originally published by Kim and can be found at  Many of you will have come across similar problems and may have been prevented from completing a course of study due to problems securing work placements. If you agree with the issues raised, please support Kim by visiting the website and signing her petition.   


We’re delighted to hear that Kim has had a meeting with the College Principal who was very positive and told her she had the full support of the College and would be able to continue with her education and attend the work placement that she was originally denied.  Kim stated:-

“I’m so emotional right now so can’t think of what to write other than thank you. I will continue to fight for people with an offending background to break down the barriers I faced. The last week has been so stressful but I can finally look forward to my future again.” 


Barriers to education- See the person, not the offence

My name is Kim. I am a student studying for an HNC working with communities. Part of my course is to do a 200 hours work placement. I found my own placement and submitted my pvg. I was as honest as I could be and my pvg came back with no restrictions and I wasn’t barred from working with anyone but, my previous convictions where on it!

In 2005 I was charged with a toxic crime racial assault which of course I deeply regret! I have never been nor am racist. It was a reaction I really regret I didn’t understand the impact this sort of behaviour would have on another but I do now I learned from my mistakes. Due to this 10 year old crime my college won’t let me do the placement as a student therefore I can’t complete the work so will fail my full course. If I fail the course then I won’t get into university which has been a real motivation to me in turning my life around!

It took me 2 years to get into college in the first place I had to fight and prove myself worthy of the place. I do have an offending back round one that I  regret but I can’t change it I’m not a bad person I just made some bad choices and it’s because of my background I want to help other young people who have been in my situation and I’ve done everything In my power to turn my life around and give my wee boy the life I never had. I speak at events about how I turned my life around and I am passionate about helping young people stay clear off committing offences so they are not in the position I am in now!

I was 17 at the time of the offence leading up to that night. I had been sleeping rough my life was out of control but the last few years all I have done is make positive changes in my life and have done everything to become a hard working member of society. I have a clean pvg so why should I still be punished for crimes I committed 10 years ago! I am passionate about change I want a career in the criminal justice system helping young people before they get into offending. I feel I am being forced out of the college I love and the course I love and I haven’t been given valid reasons. They said they where following a college policy but when challenged it turned out they don’t even have one in place for ex offenders!! So I’m facing this prejudice and descions are being made by people who dont know me. They just look at a bit of paper and see the crime not the person, they have me high risk in the college scoring system but none of them have met me & yet my pvg is fine, I feel I’m being discriminated against and all I want to do is finish my education.

Please share my petition and help me break down barriers to education for people with a offending background we must not be defined by our crimes I have changed – why should I still be punished?? I want to continue my education please help me raise awareness not just  for me but anyone else in my position as everyone has a right to have a education no matter what your background is. Thank you ❤️


Following the petition going live, Kim has made the folliwng comment on the website:-

Firstly I’d like to thank you all so much for all the support. I am overwhelmed at how many signatures, shares and lovely messages I have received in such a short space of time. I find it really hard to express myself on this matter as I feel like it has been a never ending cycle of disappointments over the last few years and the only thing that keeps me strong is the love I have for my son and my determination not to fail him and give him the life he deserves. I always get within reaching distance like everything is going well and then out of the blue my past haunts me and I’m back again having to fight and prove I’m not the person people assume I am because of my behaviour when I was at the lowest points of my life.

My heart is pounding out of my chest as I write this as I am terrified of what the outcome of this can be but I know I have to stand up for myself. I’m so tired of being rejected because of my past. Why am I still doing a sentence for offences I committed when I was seriously off the rails. My life wasn’t easy, I made really bad choices and I will never excuse anything. I have no excuses, I own every single think I ever did wrong and I’m deeply sorry to anyone my behaviour ever affected. I have learnt from my mistakes and turned my life around, is that not what matters?? When am I allowed to just be Kim in the here and now. Not Kim the ex-offender. Why can’t I get an education or job without facing barriers?? I have the right to just be Kim and not have the past hang over me for the rest of my life. I did my sentence but it feels like I am doing life with the past and I want out of this prison of being rejected and judged – I am not my crimes!

I will keep everyone posted on my journey. Please keep sharing and help me get on the placement and finish my course. I really believe convictions spent should be automatically wiped off PVG’s. I believe if there are no bars or restrictions on your PVG then employers or college/university should not get to see your convictions! The PVG is to protect vulnerable groups so who’s protecting us once we have paid back out debt to society and if we are not a risk to anyone? We are people that made mistakes that’s all.

Thank you all so much again from the bottom of my heart I will reply to you all if I can.


This content originated from:
Available at (last accessed 22nd January 2016)


Useful links

  • Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below
  • Information – We have practical self-help information on applying to university on our Information Hub.
  • Discuss this issue – There are some interesting discussions related to this from people with convictions on our online forum

I disclosed, I was employed, then I was sacked?

I was convicted of assisting another person in claiming housing benefit.  I admitted the charge at the first opportunity and took full responsibility for my actions. I received a suspended prison sentence.

Although this resulted in a life changing turn of events, I have tried to stay positive. Up until my conviction, I’d always been a hard working, law abiding member of society. I was fully aware that gaining employment with a conviction would be difficult but I never gave up hope and chased every job I came across which I thought I might be suitable for.

Eventually, I applied for a part time customer services role. I was asked to send my CV and a week or so later, I received an email asking me to attend an interview. I prepared a disclosure letter and my Job Centre advisor had a look at it for me to make sure it was OK.

On the day of the interview, I was first taken to a room with a member of staff and asked to complete numerous forms one of which was an application form for a DBS check. It was explained to me that the DBS check would be an enhanced one, the certificate would be sent to my home and I would then be responsible for handing it over to the employer. I detailed my conviction on the form and handed over my disclosure letter at the same time.

The member of staff told me that all the completed forms would be placed in a sealed envelope and the only ones which would be opened would be the ones belonging to successful candidates. I asked her what my chances were of gaining employment and was told “it all depends on the person who opens the pack and whether they feel your offences are serious enough or not”. I was then taken into another room where I had my formal interview.

Two weeks passed and I received a phone call telling me that I’d been successful and that they would like to offer me a full time rather than a part time position. I was speechless. I had tried and tried for over a year to get a job and hadn’t even got as far as an interview. I felt my life had finally turned a corner and I could now move forward. Happy was an understatement to how I felt at that time. However, a few days before I was due to start work, I started to doubt the offer and I started to worry that my disclosure letter hadn’t been seen and that my new employers might not be aware of my conviction. I spoke to my friends and the Job Centre Advisor and they all told me that everything would be OK.

I spent the first three weeks training, getting to know systems and learning what was expected of me. I started to build up really good working relationships with my colleagues in my team and in the group as a whole. On my third week, I was made aware that there was a delay in DBS certificates being returned due to the large number of new recruits that the company were taking on. I was told that immediately I received my certificate I needed to take it in to HR so that I would be able to ‘go live on the phones’. Another two weeks passed and there was still no sign of my certificate and I was asked to track its progress online.

Every day I went into work I felt more uneasy and nervous especially as I’d never had any confirmation that my disclosure letter had been seen or been asked any questions by my employers about my conviction. I started to feel like a fraud around my work colleagues, I wanted to tell them about my convictions so they’d know the real me, but my friends advised me not to – they told me ‘its in the past, don’t let one mistake define you’. So I did nothing until the four remaining people who hadn’t received their DBS certificates were called in to see the Head of HR together with members of the senior management team. We were told that our contracts would be terminated immediately if it were found that we had been holding onto our DBS certificates, in the hope of getting a couple of extra weeks pay due to the non-disclosure of a criminal record. I felt sick to my stomach.

After the meeting I asked if I could speak to the HR Manager in private and I set out all my concerns and worries to her.  She told me that she would look into it and get back to me. I can’t describe my relief, finally I could relax and start enjoying my new job. A couple of days later one of the senior managers told me that the DBS were ‘rushing’ through my check and the company’s solicitor would then make a decision about whether I was able to continue in the role.

My DBS certificate eventually arrived on the door mat and I contacted my Line Manager to let her know that I’d received it. The next day I handed the certificate over and tried to find out how soon a decision would be made. As the day progressed, my emotions were getting the better of me and I approached my senior manager to ask if there was any news. Just before I left for the evening, she asked me if she could have a private ‘word’.

Once in the room, I was told that my contract was being terminated and that they would need to let me go immediately. I developed an overwhelming lump in my throat and couldn’t say a word, I just nodded as the manager asked me if I understood the reasons for their decision. I was asked to hand over my security pass and told that I would be escorted off the premises by a member of the security team. I have no memory of how I got home that day but as soon as I entered the house I broke down in disbelief.

Its been weeks now since this happened to me. I have slowly had time to process the whole ordeal. I really do think people should be made aware of how unfairly people with past convictions are treated. I was trying to rebuild my life and move forward, I was honest from the start but the outcome was I was made to feel as though I’d committed a further offence and being escorted off the premises by a security guard left me totally humiliated.

How is there any hope of gaining employment when this is the sort of treatment people with convictions face?

By Paula (name changed to protect identity)

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Dealing with my barriers and borders

This post comes from Carlotta, one of Unlock’s trustees who has recently travelled to Australia. She has agreed for it to be re-posted on theRecord from her original blog.


I guess it is only fitting that I have a painful reminder of the events that brought me to Australia, in a round about kind of way. As I was sat on the plane I was thinking about how flying long haul is a little bit like sharing a cell with people. Strangers are invading your personal space. I had to tell them if I needed the toilet. I had to squeeze past them, touch them and hear them snore. I could not help but talk to one of them. To my right was a nice Australian lady called Kate, she had been in London visiting her son, we had cups of tea in the darkness together, she gave me tips and ideas, brought me snacks and we talked films. To my left a quiet, young French man with the enviable ability to sleep most of the time. Towards the end of the flight some paperwork started coming round, forms to fill in. Here we go – ‘Have you been to Africa in the last three months?’ ‘Do you have one or more criminal convictions?’.

As we filed off the plane into Sydney airport my anxiety level was rising a little. I knew it would be fine, of course, I did, I did, I convinced myself. I had researched the visa situation extensively. With my position as a Trustee at Unlock, I was more aware than most of dealing with my record in an upfront way. I was prepared.  BUT STILL, as I queued I felt my temperature rising, my breath getting shallow, my head spinning with ‘what if’s’ – I was filtered out of the general population of travellers as I couldn’t use the e-portals, I was a special case, I had to queue at a special desk, say goodbye to Kate, I felt embarrassed as I did not feel like sharing it with her in my exhausted state.

I thought, ‘I’m going to just front this out, just say it as it is’ – so I approached the desk confidently and said

‘I need to declare some historic offences, that’s why I cannot use the machines’ – my bravado was false, my voice was breaking – raised eyebrows

‘Okay what exactly?’

‘I spent 8 months in prison for drug trafficking 18 years ago’ – blush, squirm, judged, humiliated ……..

‘This will have to go to my boss, one moment’

I am led away to the immigration office. I know it will be fine. IT WILL BE. But I am tired and vulnerable and I feel tears pricking my eyes. ‘Okay, can you just fill in this form about your full criminal history please. Can you tell me more about your trip to Australia?’ I was prepared, had my itinerary, my conference registration, support letters. I told the officer I had started a charity as a result of my own experiences and that had now brought me to Australia.

She took everything away, a back room, a stern boss. For 20 minutes I waited, sweating, playing out worse case scenarios in my head. It was fine. Of course it was fine, she came out smiling, said my work was really interesting, she would love to work in prisons – she really believes in redemption – she wished me luck as she sent me on my way.


By Carlotta


Useful links

  • Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below
  • Information – We have practical self-help information on travelling to Australia on our Information Hub.
  • Discuss this issue – There are some interesting discussions related to this from people with convictions on our online forum

59 convictions and only just going to prison!!!

I have a long criminal record (59 convictions under the Street Offences Act) and have experienced many barriers into employment. I was refused OFSTED registration due to my spent convictions when I wanted to become a child care practitioner and had to appeal OFSTED’s decision in a Care Standards Tribunal. I won the decision of the panel with no legal support whilst my opponents had a Treasury barrister at their disposal.

I was offered a Teaching Assistant role after declaring my convictions on an application form and in a written disclosure letter. Once my CRB (as it was then) came back, the conditional job offer was withdrawn. I had been in post for over a month but suddenly my application documents couldn’t be found (to prove that I had indeed declared my convictions) and my employers denied ever having seen my disclosure letter.

By now I was becoming extremely frustrated and started volunteering as a mentor for Catch 22 working with ex-offenders that were subject to probation services. I was also involved with St Giles Trust where I also worked as a volunteer. Both these roles involved helping people to overcome barriers into better and brighter futures.

I gained NVQ qualifications in Mentoring, Mental Health Awareness, Substance Misuse Awareness, Employability and a Level 3 in Information Advice and Guidance. I also attended many additional workshops to assist me in my volunteering roles.

I applied for a role with a Young Offenders Services and was accepted after interview. Again, I wrote a disclosure letter (this time with the help of the Skills and Employment team at the St Giles Trust) and got clearance from both the Directors of Children’s and Family Services.

I was contacted recently by one of the new Community Rehabilitation Companies and was invited to an interview for a Through the Gate role. I had put my CV on a website CV Library and they had found it. The long and short is that I was interviewed and offered the job. I needed prison clearance, but my prospective employers did not envisage any problems from my conviction. For any job, I make a habit of mentioning my conviction but most importantly, how they would positively impact on my service delivery.

I thought long and hard about taking up this role. The knowledge that my convictions wouldn’t be a problem was great to hear but my role at the Young Offenders Service was really expanding. I had started to act as an appropriate adult attending police stations and doing escorts to youth court. I’d also completed some training to facilitate restorative justice processes. In the end I turned down the job with the CRC but feel so proud of myself for getting so far in the process.

It has been a long tiresome road but I think that I am finally able to put my conviction history behind me and am now able to be completely empathetic to others in situations similar to my own using my personal experience to help them to move on.

I am sharing my story in the hope it will inspire and give courage to others facing the kind of obstacles I have scaled.

By Bernadette* (name changed to protect identity)

Volunteering – Helping me to live life at last

I wanted to write about my recent experience of volunteering. Although it was at Unlock, I think my experience is is equally valuable to anybody who is looking for work and feeling despondent about the future. Volunteering was the start to a new brighter phase of my new life.

Prior to volunteering, I had been applying for jobs, getting to the interview stage and then being knocked back because I had a conviction. It would be fair to say that I felt excluded from society and would describe my life as surviving, rather than living.

Getting through the interview and being offered the volunteering role at Unlock was a big boost to my confidence. I was treated like a normal person throughout the whole process, even when discussing my conviction. I was being judged on my skills and abilities and not just on a piece of paper with my conviction on it. I felt accepted and empowered to prove that I still had the skills and abilities to work and contribute to help Unlock provide a good service to its clients.

I always looked forward to the 2 days I volunteered at Unlock, working with the staff and volunteers where I felt totally accepted. Everyone worked together to provide the best service to the people who would contact us for help and advice.

I felt normal, having a purpose to get up in the morning. Usually my life revolved around trying to get the enthusiasm to get up and apply for jobs that I knew I wouldn’t get because of my conviction. This changed with volunteering. I proved to myself that I was a good worker who had the skills and abilities to get back into the work place and contribute. I started to apply for jobs with a renewed confidence, feeling better able to deal with disclosing my conviction when asked.

Volunteering with Unlock opened my eyes to the multitude of issues that people with convictions have to deal with. It showed me that I was not alone and that there were people who were worse off than me, yet coping with life.

Just being able to give advice, information and support to people to help them move on, gave me a great sense of satisfaction and brought home the important work that Unlock undertakes, as they try to help people with convictions move on with their crime free lives.

I have now started a new job and whilst there are still challenges ahead, volunteering with Unlock has given me the confidence to deal with these in a more positive fashion, not to become depressed and move forward knowing that I am a good person who can provide an employer with a good employee.

I am now starting to live my life and not survive it.

By Robert (name changed to protect identity)


Recruitment agencies expecting ‘clear’ disclosures

When it comes to jobs that are exempt from the Rehabilitation of offenders Act, the law says you still need to disclose on an application form when asked about spent cautions or convictions regardless to however minor. In my case I will discuss about a caution from this point.

My caution was in 2012. It is minor and does not have any relevance to working with vulnerable people.

I applied for jobs to 4 different agencies on line and sent my CV with covering letters for Care Assistant roles with elderly people. I have lots of skills/experience and recruiters would always invite me down for the actual interviews. At all those interviews I had to fill out an application form and as they state they will apply for a DBS, I was aware I had to disclose the caution. Once this was put to paper on application, I was advised I would be contacted for a follow up interview and to apply for DBS and if successful will be put forward for training. I found I never heard from any of those agencies again.

I did not want to give up and saw an agency advertising for work. I sent them my CV and a covering letter. The same sequence happened, I received an email arranging an interview etc and asking me to bring proof of my identity.

However this time round, I decided to email the person back from HR as I noted that the email stated that they would need to apply for DBS if I am successful at interview and I did not want to go through the same time wasting exercise again, to not hear from them again after interview. So I decided to email the lady from HR, advising that I am currently waiting on DBS which my local authority had applied and paid for due to some work I was currently doing as a ‘Personal Assistant’.

I received a phone call from this lady from HR. She basically advised I should bring my DBS to the interview if it comes through. She told me she did not feel it had any relevance to the job I was applying for but said I can still go to the interview as it should not be a problem. She said it would basically all depend on whether I was successful or not and then taken from there.

I attended the interview a week later and I was successful at interview. I was told by the interviewer they would need to apply for a fresh DBS. She gave me a letter signed by her manager stating I was successful and a date to start the training for the following week, and pending my references and DBS check to be completed. I had also disclosed to her at the interview about my caution and she told me she did not feel it had relevance to the post but ultimately was down to the Director to make any decision, depending what comes up on DBS. She also appeared to already know about it when I told her as she said it ‘rang a bell’. I assumed the HR lady who I spoke to initially had already spoken to them about it in advance, prior to my interview I left there happy and looking forward to start the training.

Come Monday morning. I checked my emails and there was an email from the woman who interviewed me. She wished me good luck in her email for the future and referred me to ‘see letter attached’. I opened the attachment and there was a rejection letter. The rejection letter stated about them having many candidates that applied for the role who had more experience than me and they were sorry that I was ‘unsuccessful’ for the position.

I telephoned her and asked whether the email was sent in error and she said it was not. She said that a contract had ended and they didn’t have enough work coming in and that any work they did have had to go to the employees that were already on their books. She said she didn’t know there was not enough work until her manager raised it. She was quick to say she would shred all my paperwork. I knew she was lying as the information she was giving me on the phone contradicted the information she sent me in an email At the end of that week, I was job searching on line and came across a large advertisement from this same company on line, in many areas surrounding my borough. It was obvious to me that they had not lost any contracts and there was lots of work available.

It appeared their reluctance & change of mind was related to the minor caution that had no relation to this job or any impact to working with vulnerable elderly people, except of course if I applied to work in a prison. I decided to telephone the woman I had spoken to at the very beginning before my interview, where I had initially disclosed the caution to. I told this lady from HR about the confusion I had, in being told different theories to why they changed their mind. I also added the fact they gave me a firm offer in writing stating I was successful with a training date. I pointed out that it was obvious to me there was no issues with losing contracts as there was a big advertisement on line and plenty of work! The lady I spoke to from HR remembered me because she remembered advising me to bring my DBS that was pending with the LA and the disclosure I made in an email. She asked me some questions relating to my caution and I spent some time talking to her for about 15 minutes. She suggested she would speak with her manager and then get back to me. She also asked me to forward to her the email and rejection letter I received.

The following week I received a phone call from the above persons’ Manager as promised. I was told the offer still stood and I can do the training. From what I understood I was advised the position would merely be dependent on what was on my DBS. I replied I had already informed them in advance what may well be on there.

She said the person who interviewed me and sent me the rejection letter after offering me the position was new and because I had made a disclosure she thought they were unable to take me on because their policy is that a DBS ‘should be clear’. She said in my case it all is dependent on what is on there.

I then went on to say that I had been up front about what may show up when a DBS comes in before the interview and at the interview and I have already explained what the caution is for.
I explained again it is not a conviction. I agreed to do the training and take it from there. She emailed me offering me the opportunity to do the training and I responded as she asked to confirm I will do the training but I did get the impression that they were covering up for each other as I did not feel it was right to automatically prejudice someone because of a caution.
I also am concerned that it was said a ‘DBS should be clear’. Obviously in my case it is not going to be clear because a caution is likely to show up, I am still left feeling uneasy for when the time comes when the DBS is processed and concluded.

In the meantime I have carried out some training with another organisation for work relating to vulnerable people and do not finish this training until next week. This is not care work like the other organisation but still is working with vulnerable people. I will have to also get a DBS carried out with this firm after the training but my concerns are that their policy is: ‘DBS will be carried out and must be clear’.

So my real concern is that a lot of these organisations expect that it must come back clear. There is nothing on the policy saying ‘we will not discriminate or necessarily bar you if you have something that shows up and does not impact on the role you are doing’. It appears these organisations are discriminating against ex-offenders

I also experienced discrimination with 2 well known recruitment agencies. About 6 weeks ago I had them hounding me to register with them due to my skills etc and seeing my CV on line, knowing I was looking for work. I ended up making efforts to see them in person to register and I had to fill out an application form at their offices. Their form asked whether you have any spent or unspent convictions and including cautions or any pending prosecutions. I was honest with them and filled out the form. I have to this day never heard from them again!

I contacted them recently to ask them to remove my details. They totally ignored me and I chased it up and got one minimal response written in an unprofessional way. I now have to take time out to complain to their managers, as I need clarification they have indeed removed my details and the sensitive information I disclosed.

Finally, in relation to a role that I have been successful in, I have not yet been told when I can start as they are currently obtaining references and I am sure they will also do a DBS due to the role of working with young people.

For this role, I was never questioned on application as to whether I have any spent or unspent convictions or cautions and at interview I was not questioned. I do have a concern when they get to know about my caution they may change their mind about allowing me to have the job. As explained previously, it has no direct relevance to deter me from working with vulnerable people or young people.

So I am left with a very sour view of all these hurdles I have had to face due to the prejudice in some cases and cases where ex-offenders are discouraged from taking up employment.

As you can clearly see, more work needs to be done to ensure all organisations, including care work, and working to assist vulnerable people will not necessarily bar people from working on account of their enhanced DBS not being clean.

It is as if I have been sentenced to life as it is constant and never ending. It was spent in 2012 and is a caution that is constantly hanging over me.

By Sam (name changed to protect identity)

When will this go away?

I started working in the legal field when I turned 21, and although I was a single parent of three children, working full time, I worked extremely hard to do my exams and pass them. I helped hundreds of vulnerable people thought my personal life and professional life and did my fair share of pro bono work.

Unfortunately in 2008 I was arrested for a crime of fraud, and although I did not have any direct link to having done anything knowingly or intentionally, I was convicted on circumstantial evidence and the fact that I should have been more vigilent as a professional.

As a professional, if there is no direct evidence for convicting on evidence, the professional bodies get you on the basis of “bringing disrepute to the profession”.

My children were at court supporting me. Up to this point I was the breadwinner, mother , father and friend to my children and many many people who were vulnerable. I was hysterical as the judge summed up and although he felt that I had not benefited from this crime, he had no option but to sentence me to 5 years.

I lost my business, my children, my freedom, my self respect and everything I worked for. I took it on the chin. I got transferred to open prison and with great difficulty and patience I began doing voluntary work for a charity and continued until a month before my release from prison in late 2013.

I had to sign on for benefits, which I did and am on still!

I have applied for hundreds of jobs and been to uncountable interviews but each time I disclose my conviction people look at me as an offender, a convicted person, a untrustworthy person. My conviction was against lenders not an individual. The lenders concerned probably had insurance therefore they haven’t made a loss. The person who ran away with the money didn’t make the loss nor any member of the public. Only I have made a loss.

I continue to look for work, any sort of work. However not even the supermarkets want me.

The added problem is that due to the length of my sentence for a white collar crime, my conviction will never be spent. I can’t grasp the idea that my conviction and the sentence I received is worse than some one who has been convicted of a violent crime.

I am not saying what I did or failed to do is right, but I do feel that I have been left out in to the community, where there is no prospect of finding work, no one happy to take me on. Some places say I’m over qualified and the others say their policy is such that they cannot employ me due to my conviction. It’s a joke really, I want to work and no one wants a ex offender.

I would like to know when will this go away? I also want to know why is it that Judges do not think about the impact of the sentence they give. They are aware of the fact that if the sentence is above 4 years it will never be spent, so is it a way of ensuring the ex offenders can not rebuild there lives?

I want to work, I want to pay for my mortgage, but there is no help out here. I want to know why? The CJS is all for punishing, but not there to help convicted people get back into work, and someone needs to look at the impact of the length of sentences given.

By Harry (name changed to protect identity)

Dating someone with a serious criminal record

I met Wes at my gym. We got talking and decided to go for a drink. Both in our 40’s, he wasn’t my usual type but there was something about him. Over the next three weeks we met numerous times. I was beginning to really like this guy.

Then I found out via a mutual friend that he had been in prison! He had only been out 4 months! I was shocked.  Some things he’d said then made sense; He had no passport!  He’d spent time living with his sister! Lack of possessions!

So, I asked him and yes it was true. I was totally gutted, devastated. I have a responsible job in education and 2 teenage children, how could I carry on seeing him now?  Prison, crime and the world he’d moved in were totally foreign to me.

His crime was bad. I Googled him and there he was – a criminal. The local newspaper painted an awful picture but somehow I just couldn’t connect the two men together. I didn’t know this man in the newspaper. I only knew the funny, kind, caring man I’d been dating.

I ended the relationship, but I just felt so sad, it didn’t feel right. He too was disappointed with my decision, but understood.

But I couldn’t sleep for a week, I tossed and turned and felt so unsettled. I confided in a few close friends, most of them warned me to steer clear, told me I’d made the right decision. I did some research, read things online, looked at the Unlock website and forums.  I then spoke to my sister- in-law who’s a probation officer. I was surprised at what she told me; “talk to him, ask him about his life, and find out about his sentence and the terms of his license”. I was surprised by her positivity. She told me many people turn their lives around after release from prison.

So I decided to see him again. I asked him why he hadn’t told me the truth, asked him what his license terms were, where he’d been in prison. He was honest. He apologised and admitted he was struggling to find a way to tell me about his prison sentence. After all how on earth do you tell someone (new and that you’re developing feelings for) that?

Over the past seven months he has met many of my immediate family and some of my friends. Most have accepted him. I have lost a couple friends because of my decision to carry on seeing him. These so called friends have never even spoken to me about Wes and have never even met him. They are fools! Narrow minded, judgemental and hypocritical. I don’t need people like that in my life. They aren’t friends.

Wes wants to move on with his life, he’s served his time and needs a chance to rebuild his future. In the time I’ve known him he has only ever been  hardworking, caring, kind, loving, supportive and generous.  I’ve learnt so much about myself too during all of this, I don’t judge people so quickly anymore, and people need another chance. Life is so short, I think if you mess part of it up, you need the opportunity  to make the remaining bit worthwhile.

On Valentine’s Day Wes sent me a card, inside it simply said ‘Thank you for believing’.  It made me cry.

By Carla (name changed to protect identity)

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