I’m 40 years old and most people that know me would consider me to be a ‘pillar of the community’. However, this hasn’t always been the case and, as a young man, I received several cautions and also had a short stay in a Young Offender’s Institution. Most of the incidents involved violence.
Since then, I’ve done pretty well at work and, two years ago through my work in the UK, I was offered a job in Singapore. The job was a management role and I’d been offered a good salary. As a young man, it had always been my dream to live and work abroad but, from what I’d read, this was going to be impossible with my criminal record.
My new employers in Singapore told me that I’d need an ‘Employment Pass’ which they would apply for on my behalf and would last for two years. To meet the criteria, I had to demonstrate that I had the appropriate professional qualifications and skills and would be earning above £1800 per month.
It all sounded too good to be true and I started to do some research into what, if any, criminal record checks might be undertaken. I found out that to work in many countries, I would need to get a copy of my Police Certificate. I know that my past cautions and conviction would probably show up and this would be likely to affect my new employers decision as to whether to employ me. However, I’d not been asked to provide one yet.
Within a matter of days, my new employer contacted me to let me know that they’d submitted the application for an Employment Pass and that they needed some additional information from me – this included a copy of my passport, my bank details and evidence to show that I had a clean criminal record.
I obviously agreed to send this off but was panicking like mad. How could I prove that I didn’t have a criminal record – I did. I started to search for information online and came across details of the helpline run by Unlock. I rang the number straight away and explained the situation to the lady at the other end of the phone. She immediately put me at ease and, after a few minutes suggested that as the company had not specified the need for a Police Certificate, then I should get a copy of my basic criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland and send this to my employer. The certificate would be blank as all my cautions and my conviction were spent.
It all made complete sense and I started to think it might actually work. As soon as I put the phone down, I applied for my basic certificate online. I got it back about 6 days later and emailed a copy to my new employers who were more than happy with it.
I’ve been working in Singapore for about a year now and loving it. Singapore is a cosmopolitan city that offers a high quality of life and endless career opportunities. Sometimes, it’s important to really think about what an employer wants from you. Mine needed evidence that I didn’t have a criminal record and the basic certificate was able to prove this. If I’d rushed in and given them a Police Certificate it might have been a different story for me.
By Seb (name changed to protect identity)