The 28 November 2020 saw changes to the criminal records disclosure regime come into force and like many people, Tony was able to see his convictions from over 45 years ago removed from standard and enhanced DBS certificates.

I was born into a violent, chaotic, impoverished and broken home and it was probably due to my dysfunctional family life that I was constantly in trouble with the police, mainly for theft or vandalism.

When I was aged about 10, Social Services got involved and I was placed into the ‘care of the local authority’ and became part of the care system. Initially I was sent to a very austere Children’s Home ; a cold, unfeeling, loveless place. In addition to an almost starvation diet we were subject to strict petty rules where even the slightest infringement resulted in a hard slap across the face. I generally took this in my stride, probably because I’d been subject to far worse at the hands of my violent, unstable mother.

Eventually I was transferred to a boarding school for maladjusted boys. It sounds terrible but the headmaster and his wife were fantastic. We were treated fairly, there was a happy, caring atmosphere, plenty of food and regular day trips to look forward to. Everything started to improve for me.

However, although I was old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, I was extremely dishonest. I had absolutely no moral compass, boundaries or principles and it was true to say that ‘if it wasn’t nailed down, I’d steal it’.

Up to the age of 15 I committed various criminal acts generally theft and received a conditional discharge or a fine, but never any time in prison. Since then I’ve had a clean record.

I served in the Armed Forces for ten years, worked as a security officer and then spent 10 years in financial management. In all this time, there was never the slightest doubt about my honesty.

Then in 2006, I realised that I wanted to try and put my own personal experiences to good use and work within the criminal justice system. I applied for several jobs but was rejected at either the application stage or as soon as the organisation received my DBS certificate. I couldn’t believe that 30 years on from my last conviction, my criminal record was having such a major impact on my life.

Never one to give up, I applied to have my convictions ‘stepped down’ under the police ‘weeding’ procedure (a similar system to what’s now known as filtering) and the police agreed. All my convictions were removed from my criminal record certificate.

Then in 2013 the law changed once more and hey presto, because I had more than one conviction, they all suddenly appeared again. As a 61 year old semi-retired grandfather my convictions were being disclosed again, 45 years later.

When I read the email that said the law would be changing and multiple convictions would now be eligible for filtering I almost cried. The continued disclosure of sensitive and often irrelevant information is seriously blighting people’s lives and I for one am looking forward to seeing my ‘clean’ DBS certificate for the first time in years.

By Tony (name changed to protect identity)

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