Declaring convictions

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Q: I’m an Assistant Headteacher and I recently applied for a post as Deputy Headteacher in a different school. The application form asked the question: Have you ever had any convictions? In 1992, I had a conviction for drink driving, which does not appear on my Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Do I have to declare this on the application form?

A: Since May 2013, standard and enhanced checks no longer disclose all convictions and cautions. A process of filtering is carried out to establish what does not get disclosed on a DBS check. Whether a conviction is eligible for filtering or not depends on the type of offence committed. For example, a safeguarding offence would not be eligible for filtering (and would therefore appear) whereas many motoring offences would be eligible (and would therefore not appear).

DBS filtering guidance, published in December 2013, says employers “can only ask an individual to provide details of convictions and cautions that they are legally entitled to know about”. Additionally, the guidance goes on to say that “if an employer takes into account a conviction or caution that would not have been disclosed they are acting unlawfully under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974”.

Employers must, therefore, ensure that the questions that they ask reflect the process of filtering that is being carried out. Suggested examples of the correct wording to use on an application form are:

  • Do you have any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not ‘protected’ as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013)?
  • Have you ever been convicted (or received a caution, warning or final reprimand) for an offence that would not be filtered from the Police National Computer when it is processed by the DBS?

If at any point in the future a conviction that has not been declared (due to being filtered out) comes to light and an employee is challenged about it by their employer, the employee may be able to refer to the answer being correct and in line with the DBS filtering rules.

For more information see the DBS filtering guide.

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