In the 1980’s, at the age of 16, I was convicted of ABH and given a 12 month conditional discharge. After this happened my solicitor told me that, when I turn 18, the conviction will become cleared. At that time, the offence didn’t play on my mind and, until the early 2000s, I was getting on with my life. I became a parent, went to college and then onto university.

Then, in 2003, I got a job as a Teaching Assistant in a secondary school, and this was when I had to do a CRB check. When asked on the form if I had any criminal records, I answered no because I thought that the conviction was spent.

When my CRB came back, the head teacher asked me about it. I tried to explain the situation, saying what I could remember about the circumstances around the offence, and telling her that I had been told it would be cleared.  She was saying that there would have to be a meeting to discuss the matter, and I guess really to see if I would be keeping my job.  I was in shock because of  whole thing, and I decided to leave because I thought that I was going to lose my job, and also because I felt (and still feel) ashamed.

It is really good that there have been some changes to the ROA, and now how minor offences can be filtered, but I ask myself, what about the people who committed an offence when they were teenagers? Because of the nature of the offence, it will never be cleared or wiped, or filtered. That just doesn’t seem right.

People tell me that I have nothing to worry about, and employers will not even ‘bat an eyelid’ because it happened almost 30 years ago. I was in my teens, and it’s my one and only offence. The thing is, this one offence feels like 30 offences, and 10 years on from when it all came out, I am still trying to come to terms with it. I am angry and I feel ashamed. I look at the jobs which I know I have the skills for, but seeing the words ‘a DBS check will be required’ scares me. Why? Because it means that I will have to explain something that happened decades ago, and I think ‘why?’

On the few occasions that I have disclosed for work purposes, the response has been negative. I know some people can quickly get over things, and get on with things, but I am finding the criminal record and DBS checks difficult to deal with. I just want to apply for a job without this hanging over my head.

Yes, I can say to myself that ‘it happened 30 years ago’, but because it’s an offence that for certain jobs like teaching (an area of work that interests me) it won’t ever be spent. Those 30 years, are like 30months ago. So, I will always be seen as a ‘risk,’ and this doesn’t help my confidence one bit.

I want to thank you Unlock for the work you do, for wanting the government to make further changes, and for giving us a voice.

by Nicola

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