If you are applying for a position which requires some type of criminal records check, then the last part of the process is receiving the certificate in the post. This is also the step which causes the most stress as there is a lot of confusion about what exactly will be shown on the certificate. There isn’t a straight answer either, as the type of information will depend on the level of disclosure check.


Basic Disclosure Checks

If you are having a basic disclosure, then it’s fairly easy to work out what your certificate will show. A basic disclosure check is simply a confirmation of what is on your current, unspent criminal record. The concept of “spent” is a tricky one. In the UK, the law states that it’s not fair to expect people to have their entire working lives tarnished by a minor mistake they make as a teenager. After a certain period of time, old and less serious offences drop off your criminal record and are considered spent. That doesn’t mean that the offences are erased from the police computer, just that you don’t have to declare them in most circumstances.


Standard and Enhanced Disclosure Checks

When it comes to the more detailed level of checks, the situation is slightly different. This type of disclosure is a deeper dig into someone’s character, to work out whether they could pose a risk. These types of disclosure can only be requested in connection with specific jobs, and the type of work the person will be doing is detailed on the application form. When looking at the police computer, the police start from the position of allowing people a fresh start. However, they also have to protect the interests of children or vulnerable adults who might come into contact with the worker. It’s a balancing act and the police have to weigh up the risk of not telling an employer about past convictions against the risk to the individual of disclosing old offences which may not be relevant.


Strategy for Dealing With Past Offences

Around 11 million people in the UK have some sort of criminal record, so it’s important to remember that you won’t be the only person employed who has had a brush with the law. Most employers also appreciate that information about criminal records is highly sensitive and shouldn’t be shared widely around your colleagues. If your criminal record is recent, then employers are more likely to be wary than when dealing with someone whose record goes back decades. It’s always better to be honest and open with them. If you are able to demonstrate that you have been holding down a steady job and haven’t been in trouble for quite some time, then this is likely to go in your favour. There are lots of calculators and websites which will help you decide whether old convictions are spent or not. It all depends on the type of conviction and how old you were at the time.