There an estimated 10 million adults living in the UK who have a criminal record. The number of unemployed people in the UK is only around 1.47 million though, so it’s safe to assume that there are 8.5 million people working every day in the UK with a criminal record. That’s perhaps scant comfort when you start looking around for work – is that assault conviction after a fight ten years ago going to come back to haunt you? And what about all those speeding fines and parking tickets?
What’s Criminal and What’s Not
Although administered by the Police, many everyday driving offences are not a criminal matter. If you’re applying for a job and are asked about your criminal record, you can answer that your record is clean if all you have had are fixed penalty notices for minor speeding offences, going through a red light or not having working headlights. These sorts of driving offences only become criminal when they become more serious, such as speeding to such an extent that you have to go to court or causing a serious accident or death by running a red light. Other matters which may involve courts such as custody disputes or boundary disputes with neighbours aren’t criminal matters either.
Jobs Which Don’t Ask
Many employers don’t even ask whether or not you’ve got a criminal record when you apply for a job, especially if you have a work history and references which can be checked. This is especially true of occupations which do not involve handling cash or high levels of responsibility. If you are asked about your criminal record it’s unwise to lie. Although most employers have to take what you tell them on face value and are unable to check with the Police whether you have a record or not, if you are found out to be lying at a later date they would have grounds for sacking you immediately. It’s always better to be honest and offer an explanation, or point out that the offences are long in the past and that your recent record is exemplary.
DBS Checks and Criminal Records
For some roles, especially those working with children or vulnerable adults, a formal police records check is required. This is done through the DBS in England and Wales, and the levels of checks performed will depend on the type of role. The most detailed level of DBS checks will show up any convictions and cautions on your Police record, even the very old ones which might be considered spent and forgotten under other circumstances. Again, having something disclosed on your DBS check doesn’t automatically mean you won’t be offered a job, as the employer has discretion. They will look at your certificate and work out whether they are still prepared to offer the job or not. As most offers for jobs which require DBS checking as made subject to clearance, unfortunately you have no come back if they decide that on balance they’d prefer not to take the risk.