Due to the nature of her offence, Jazmin’s caution for affray isn’t currently eligible for filtering. Although it hasn’t stopped her from achieving her goal to be a teacher, she does still find it difficult to talk about her experience and the circumstances surrounding her caution.
Almost ten years ago, I was in the last year of university and had received a teacher training placement to start later in the year.
Not long after getting my placement, I was out one evening with my partner when we got into an argument and he ended up head butting me in the face and knocked me to the floor. I was so shocked that when I got up, I started to fight back when suddenly the police were there and we were both arrested.
The police were sure that this was a case of domestic violence and tried to get me to press charges. I loved my partner and this was just a one-off incident, so I refused. The police took the decision to caution us both for affray. I was distraught and just wanted to get away from the police station to I accepted the caution without fully understanding the implications of doing so.
The next day, I phoned the university and explained the situation to them, fully expecting to be dismissed from the course. The administrator was extremely kind and asked me to come in to discuss the matter with the head teacher. I was so ashamed and really struggled to admit the fact that my partner had assaulted me.
Thankfully, the head teacher allowed me to stay on the course and I qualified the following year. Sadly over time, the abuse from my partner escalated and I finally managed to get the courage to leave him.
I’ve been teaching for ten years now and worked in four schools. With every job I applied for I had to disclose the caution and re-tell my story. So far, every head teacher has been very understanding and I’m grateful that the very first one took a chance on me.
The fact that I’ve now been teaching for so long works in my favour and the fact that I’ve been successfully employed in schools despite this mark on my record sets a precedent. I hate that this horrible point in my life will dog me for my entire career, and every time I’m asked about it the shame and embarrassment hangs over me for weeks.
I was naive about cautions when I accepted one and I hope that one day cases like mine will be given due consideration for removal. In the meantime, I hope to raise awareness and education about cautions, particularly when domestic violence and partner abuse is involved.
My advice to anyone thinking that a caution may stop you is to swallow your pride, be honest and apply anyway.
By Jazmin (name changed to protect identity)
Comment from Unlock
Despite Jazmin’s previous experience of disclosure being very positive, there is little doubt that she still finds it embarrassing to talk about. The incident which led to Jazmin’s caution was approximately 10 years ago and since then, she has forged a successful career as a teacher. For many women like Jazmin, disclosure is not just about having potential employers view them as a ‘criminal’ but also about being seen as a ‘victim’.
The judges in the Supreme Court case around filtering broadly agreed that some violent offences ‘may be’ considered a serious offence and should continue to be disclosed. Unlock will continue to challenge all aspects of the filtering criteria.
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