Student Law Breaking and DBS Checks

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Being a student is often seen as the time in your life when you can enjoy your youth, run a bit wild, and have a lot of fun alongside getting your degree. Getting into trouble as a student could not only land you in trouble with the police, but could also see you thrown out of university, with a conviction which can have a long-term effect on your career prospects.



University Policies on Law-Breaking

Each university will have its own policy about codes of conduct and what will happen to students who are convicted of a crime. These policies should be available on the university’s website, but you might have to dig around to find them. Just as with an employee who breaks the law, most universities will have a disciplinary procedure to set out what happens to students. In most cases of minor law breaking, the student might be suspended pending an investigation, and the reprimanded. Universities don’t want to throw students off their course, and this is only a last resort in the case of very serious offences. Universities may think that your offence brings the university into disrepute, or your conduct could potentially mean a threat to either other students or staff members. Students going through this sort of disciplinary process can usually get support from the Student Union.


DBS Checks and Students

Some students require a disclosure check before commencing their course. This requirement usually affects those studying healthcare degrees, or teaching degrees. Someone on a teacher training course for example might have had a clear DBS check before starting the course. If, a few months in, they are convicted of serious drugs offences or violent crime, this could affect their DBS check and as a consequence, their place on the course. Anyone who finds themselves in this position should seek expert legal advice.

For students who are not on the sort of course which requires a DBS check on entry, there may still be longer term consequences of a conviction as a student. Many employers ask all employees to have a basic DBS check, which will show up any recent criminal convictions. In some other positions, a more detailed form of DBS check, and this might show up convictions which are forgotten in other situations. In theory, this could mean that a crime committed at university in your teens could still be coming back to haunt you decades later. Of course, this is a worst-case scenario, and most students who get into a spot of legal hot water go on to successful careers.


Disclosing Offences to Employers

The golden rule is probably only to give information about prior convictions if you are asked. There is no requirement to mention spent convictions in most situations. Even if you do have a criminal record, many employers are prepared to overlook matters which are in the very distant past, and when the person involved can demonstrate a good track record of employment more recently.