I’d like to bring to everyone’s attention the issues you may encounter if you’re not entirely clear about the types of restrictions or conditions that exist on your licence or the input that other organisations may have which you might not have been made aware of. This is my story.
I recently started a new job eight months after I was released from prison. I know from reading posts on the Unlock forum that it’s difficult to get a job with a criminal record and, if you have a conviction for a sexual offence, like I do, then it’s even more so. I thought I’d done well to find a company that didn’t ask about my criminal record so I didn’t disclose it.
The job was going well until for some reason, my boss decided to Google me. I’m not sure what led him to do so, perhaps it was something he did with every new member of staff or maybe he’d been tipped off about my conviction. Needless to say, the newspaper report he read didn’t present me in the best light and he decided to do some further digging about me.
He immediately chose to ring the local police station and was put in touch with my supervising officer. Without speaking to me first, my supervising officer told him the details of my conviction and the fact that I’d spent time in prison. The first I knew of this conversation was when my boss called me into his office and told me:
I know everything about you. The police have told me what you did and where you’ve been’
I was immediately suspended whilst my boss considered what he would do with me.
The next time I met my probation officer, she told me that she’d been contacted by the police and that they were concerned that I’d breached my registration requirements. She told me that the police would arrange to visit me to discuss the matter further.
As soon as I got home I started to look through the details of my notification requirements. I checked my Sexual Harm Prevention Order and also my licence and I couldn’t see anything that set out the need to disclose my conviction to an employer it they didn’t ask me about it. I was confident that I’d done as much research as I could and I believed that the police had unlawfully disclosed my conviction to an employer. I was ready to have a reasoned argument about it.
I always worry about any police visit but I was fairly confident that the situation would be sorted out once I’d had a chat with the officer concerned. I figured that the police had the same duty to abide by my licence/SHPO conditions as I did.
My confidence left me very soon after the police officer arrived. She started to explain that her decision to disclose details of my conviction were nothing to do with the SOR, SHPO or my licence conditions it was as a result of being supervised by MAPPA. I’d heard of MAPPA whilst I was in prison but only in the context of people with violent offences – that wasn’t me.
However, she told me that all registered sex offenders are subject to MAPPA arrangements – unfortunately that did apply to me. The MAPPA arrangement apparently means that the police have a duty to consider whether it’s necessary to disclose information about an individual to a third party in order to protect the public and safeguard children. She explained that having heard about the type of work I was doing, she believed that the public may be at some risk. Hence her decision to disclose.
She told me that normally she would have given me the opportunity to disclose the conviction myself but, as my boss was on the telephone and very concerned about the risk I posed, this had not been possible.
So it seemed that in this case, the police hadn’t really done anything wrong. Yes they probably should have given me the chance to disclose my conviction myself but in this case the outcome would probably have been the same. My boss had already found out about my conviction and was desperate to find more out about me. The police officer told me that it wouldn’t always be necessary for her to disclose to a third party, it would very much depend on the job. However, if I find another job that doesn’t ask about my past and I don’t disclose, I’m worried about how this will be viewed by the police and probation. The last thing I want is to end up back in prison.
I’ve not heard from my boss yet about what he’s going to do. However, whatever happens, I’ve decided the best thing for me to do is to work on my disclosure so that I’ll feel more comfortable and confident about disclosing my conviction in the future. Knowing where I stand will no doubt stand me in good stead for whatever lies ahead.
By Wayne (name changed to protect identity)