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Tag: Understanding your criminal record

Finding out about your criminal record – Subject Access Requests and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

On the 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) come into effect, changing the way that personal data is protected.

Your right to request information about your personal data will remain relatively unchanged. However, the previous fee of £10 for a Subject Access Request (SAR) has been abolished, meaning that SAR’s will now be free of charge.

So, with this in mind, if you want to find out what’s on your criminal record and what you need to disclose to an employer when applying for a job, what should you do?

You can either apply for:

  1. A basic Disclosure and Barring Service check
  2. A copy of your SAR

With SAR’s now being free of charge, you might assume that this is the best option available. However, it’s important to remember that what you see on your SAR will be different to what you’ll need to disclose to an employer. An SAR provides details of everything that’s held about you on the Police National Computer (PNC), it does not differentiate between spent and unspent convictions. If you’re not really careful you could easily find yourself disclosing too much to a potential employer.

You may be happy to go through your SAR and work out for yourself what’s spent and what’s not (you can use our disclosurecalculator to help you) but, if you would prefer to see exactly what an employer will see, then it’s always best to pay the £25 and apply for a basic check.

If you’re applying for jobs in the future that involve basic checks. In particular, if you think your conviction is spent and you’re planning not to disclose it to an employer.

  • If you’re applying for jobs involving standard/enhanced DBS checks.
  • If you want to know if something will be filtered and need to work it out.
  • If you want to find out what information the police hold about you.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on police records – subject access requests and basic DBS checks
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Are cautions just a ‘slap on the wrist’ or are there further implications in accepting one?

Cautions are often referred to as a ‘slap on the wrist’ and can appear appealing as it means that you’ll be dealt with quickly at the police station and won’t need to go to court.

However, many people are not aware that a caution will form part of their criminal record and can cause problems in the future.

Calls to our helpline continually highlight the number of individuals who are unaware of the significance of accepting a caution until it resurfaces unexpectedly many years later.

We’ve produced some new information on the implications of accepting a police caution which we’d recommend anybody faced with the option of accepting a caution reads before deciding how to proceed.

We’re also working on some more information about things to be aware of after receiving a caution – we’ll be sharing more details about this soon.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our implications of accepting a police caution section
  2. Questions – If you have any questions you can contact our helpline

What’s new from ACRO Criminal Records Office?

Unless you’ve travelled abroad and needed a police certificate or applied for a subject access request (SAR) to help get a better understanding of your criminal record, you may never have come across ACRO Criminal Records Office (ACRO).

They have just published their annual report for 2016/17 showing an annual income of almost £13 million and we thought it might be useful to highlight some relevant information from that report.

Travelling abroad

If you’re looking to move abroad or require a visa to visit certain countries (for example the US), you will probably need to apply for a police certificate and in 2016/17, ACRO received 131,560 applications. The majority of the certificates had no conviction information disclosed however 12,796 (almost 10%) showed ‘live’ convictions and 7,875 (6%) showed ‘no live trace’.

A survey undertaken by ACRO highlighted that 88% of respondents from Embassy’s and High Commission’s etc. stated that Police Certificates were an important component in their decision as to whether to issue or deny a visa. Therefore, being very clear about what’s on your certificate and knowing how to disclose it to an immigration officer could have a significant impact on your chances of success.

Convictions received overseas

As at March 2017, it has been possible for the UK to exchange criminal record information with 25 out of 27 EU member states via the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).

In 2016/17 there was a 22% increase in the number of notifications sent to ACRO which related to UK nationals who’d received a conviction overseas. Of the 12,336 notifications received, 7,064 resulted in conviction information being added to the Police National Computer (PNC) – 1,531 were for violent offences and 325 related to sexual offences.

In October 2016 ACRO were notified that a UK national who had received a conviction for a sexual offence in Cyprus was returning to the UK. ACRO informed the local police in the area he would be returning to who contacted the gentleman at home to arrange a risk assessment and consider possible ways that he would be monitored in the community

Deletion of criminal record information from the PNC

For the last two years, ACRO has been responsible for coordinating the record deletion process on behalf of all police forces in the UK. In 2016/17, 1,512 people applied to have their records deleted from the PNC. Of these, 479 were successful, 10 had part of their records deleted, 494 were refused and 266 applications were not eligible. The deletions related to police intelligence (sometimes referred to as additional information) and in some cases, DNA and fingerprints.

If you’ve had an enhanced DBS check done in the past and the police have chosen to disclose additional information, then it may be worth considering making an application to have it removed, especially if it’s had an adverse effect on your ability to get a job or join a college or university course.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our police certificates, convictions obtained overseas and disclosure of police intelligence on enhanced checks sections
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

‘Turings Law’ takes effect to posthumously pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men

We were pleased to hear the Justice Secretary, Sam Gyimah, announce yesterday that thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of sexual offences which have now been abolished (decriminalised) have been posthumously pardoned.

This pardoning has become known as ‘Turings Law’ after Alan Turing, a World-War Two code breaker often referred to as ‘the father of modern computing’. In 1952 Alan went on trial and was convicted after police learned of his sexual relationship with a young man.  He committed suicide in 1954 but in 2013 was pardoned for his ‘crime’.

The Policing and Crime Bill sets out in law pardons for those convicted of consensual same-sex relationships before the laws changed.

Crucially for people with convictions, the Act also applies to those still alive who have successfully applied through the Home Office disregard process to have historic offences removed, although we know that the numbers of people that apply through this process is very low and often acts as an unnecessary obstacle.

That said, the news yesterday will mean that people who successfully get their conviction ‘disregarded’ with also receive a pardon.

Note: The law does not apply to non-consensual sexual acts or those involving people under the age of consent.

For more information

  1. For more practical self-help informationRemoving historical convictions and cautions for consensual gay sex from criminal records
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.


Were the effects of accepting a caution explained to you? Send us a copy of what you were given

Our helpline receives enquiries every day from individuals who have accepted cautions without feeling like they understand the effects of it.

The Home Office guidance on cautions states that ‘the significance of the admission of guilt in agreeing to accept a caution must be fully and clearly explained to the individual before they are cautioned.’

However, different police forces give different guidance and have different forms in place.

We’re interested in seeing copies of cautions that people have accepted in the last two years. This will give us a good idea of the type of written information people were given before they signed to accept the caution.

So, if you’ve received a caution from the police in the last two years and have a copy of what you were given at the time, please send us a copy. We don’t need your personal details, so feel free to blank these out. Send the details to

You can attach a copy of your caution (and any other information you were given) as an image or a PDF to the email, or you can send us a copy in the post (please don’t send originals).

There’s no particular deadline to this, but if you could send us copies by Friday 17th June, we’ll review the ones we’ve received at that point.

Thanks for your support.

For more information

For practical self-help information – See our information on simple cautions

What we do with your evidenceFind out more about what we do with your experiences and evidence

What do you do if you receive a conviction whilst in employment?

Most of our information around disclosing to employers looks at how to disclose details of an existing criminal record when you’re applying for work. However, what happens if you receive a caution or conviction when you’ve already got a job?

We’ve produced some new information on receiving a criminal record whilst you’re in employment, which looks at the consequences of receiving a criminal record whilst you’re working and whether you legally need to disclose it to your employer.

Irrespective of the legal position, it may be that you’ll need to look at other factors which may affect whether you disclose to your employer or not. For example:-

  • If there’s been any publicity about your case, you may need to weigh up the chances of your employer finding out about it.
  • If your conviction led to any restrictions, i.e. you may be prevented from going to certain places or working with certain people.
  • If the disposal you receive affects your ability to do your job, i.e. if you’ve lost your driving licence and your job involves driving.

Have a look at our receiving a criminal record whilst you’re in employment page, which features an interesting personal experience and some recent case law.

We hope you find this helpful. Let us know what you think by completing our feedback form.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information on convictions and employment law.

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