After receiving two convictions in a short space of time, Deena was anxious about having to explain them to her current employer. Having been employed for 5 years, she didn’t for one minute consider not disclosing and in this case, the result was positive.

I’d worked for my employer for over 5 years. I’d had regular DBS checks which always came back ‘clean’ and assumed that would continue to be the case.

However, for reasons I won’t go into now, things really changed for me in 2018 and I received a couple of convictions over the course of eight months. As I work in a school (probably one of the most risk averse sectors there can be), I’ve had to disclose these to my employer – however, what happened after that may surprise you.

My first run in with the law came at the end of December 2017 when I’d just driven my ex-partner back to his house. I was really tired and if I’m honest, driving on auto-pilot. As I looked in my mirror, I realised that there was a police car right behind me and so I put my foot down (absolutely not a sensible thing to do). When I did eventually stop, I was arrested and charged with dangerous driving and failing to stop. When I went into work the next day I asked to speak to my manager and told her what had happened. I explained that I’d probably end up being disqualified from driving but this wouldn’t affect my ability to do my job. My manager thanked me for informing her and told me to keep her updated of the situation.

As expected, when I went to court in July 2018, I was disqualified from driving for 18 months. However, I also receive a suspended sentence. When I told my manager the news she was more worried about how I was coping with the unexpected suspended sentence rather than being concerned with the impact of my conviction on the school. So, I continued to work.

Then during the school summer holidays, I was arrested for harassment. My court date was set for mid-August and I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be walking out of court that day; after all I had a suspended sentence hanging over me. I’d given my mum my employers contact details and told her to ring the school immediately she knew what my sentence was.

My guardian angel must have been looking after me that day because a further 4 weeks was added onto my suspended sentence and I got a 2 year restraining order.

There wasn’t any media interest in my case so I guess I could have just returned to work and said nothing but, given the support I’d had in the past by my employers, that just didn’t seem the right thing to do.

Returning to work in September was nerve-racking. I knew it was more than likely that I’d be dismissed but I wanted the chance to explain what had happened. I felt sick as I walked into my manager’s office and, as I started to talk, my mouth completely dried up. Somehow I managed to explain what had happened as well as reassuring her that I would never get into any trouble again. I’d realised how important my work was to me and how many people I’d let down.

The result – I’m still employed with the school.

I don’t know whether they would have found out about my conviction if I hadn’t told them but I didn’t want the stress or worry of constantly looking over my shoulder. I’d worked really hard in the time I’d been at the school, was considered a loyal member of staff and made some really good friends – it would have been terrible if I’d been dismissed because I’d not disclosed my criminal record and been escorted off the premises. I would have lost so much more than just my job.

It was nobody’s fault but my own that I’d received a criminal record and it’s important to recognise that and take ownership of it. The decision to disclose obviously worked out well for me but, even if I’d been sacked I wouldn’t have regretted doing what I did.

By Deena (name changed to protect identity)

 

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