The best disclosure statements are those which are genuine and accurately reflect your circumstances and attitudes. Even though you might feel embarrassed about disclosing a criminal record, remember that almost one in four people of working age have at least one conviction and many more have cautions.
You are not alone, and the employers are likely to have come across criminal record disclosures before. When disclosing your criminal record, it is important to relate what you write (or say) to the job for which you are applying. A good disclosure statement reassures the employer about your offence(s).
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the employer who is receiving this information and trying to make a judgment on the basis of the information you are providing.
If the following points apply then you should emphasis them in your disclosure statement:
- The offence was committed a long time ago. In some cases it may be that the conviction is recent but the offence is not. If so you should clarify this.
- The offence was a one-off and was out of character. If you have a number of offences that occurred over a period of time, try to group them together (e.g. “between 2001 and 2005 I was convicted on a number of occasions for offences relating to…”).
- The offence is not relevant to the job for which you are applying. Offence codes can make it difficult for employers to judge whether the offence is relevant. For example, serious violent and sexual offences are generally considered relevant to roles which involve unsupervised work with children or work with vulnerable adults. There are also a wide variety of offences that have little relevance, such as public order offences.
- The offence sounds more serious than it was. One way of explaining to employers that an offence is not as serious as it might sound is by drawing attention to the penalty or sentence you received. Offence codes cover a very wide range of offences that vary in terms of seriousness. A sexual offence, for instance, covers everything from young men sleeping with their underage girlfriends to indecent assault and rape. Violence covers everything from slaps and smacks, normally recorded as battery or common assault, to grievous bodily harm and murder. Drug offences cover everything from possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use to possession of class A drugs with intent to supply. Burglary covers everything from taking goods from shop storerooms to entering the homes of elderly people, leaving them in fear. Arson ranges from a person setting fire to litter bins to a person destroying property and endangering lives.
- There were particular circumstances, which have now changed, or reasons behind the offence(s). For example, if you had an addiction issue at the time of the offending which you have since addressed.
- Reassure the employer that you have addressed, changed or learnt from the reasons or causes that led to your offending.
- You took responsibility for the offence(s) at the time. For example you pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity or cooperated with the investigation.
As with any application or CV, a disclosure statement must be tailored to the specific job for which you are applying, as different employers may have different safeguarding concerns. A disclosure statement is personal to you and your circumstances, so there is no perfect disclosure statement. You might find it useful, however, to try and include the following:
Start with something positive
Tell the employer why you are applying for the role, what you can offer, previous experience, skills, abilities etc.
Reassure the employer you are not a risk
This should be the focus of your statement. Be sure to mention any employment, voluntary work or other experiences which demonstrate a proven track record of working as a safe and responsible staff member. If your circumstances have changed since the time of your offence(s), it might be helpful to mention this. For example, if you have family or financial commitments such as a mortgage, this might demonstrate that you have too much to lose from getting into trouble again. If personal problems contributed to the reasons behind the offence(s), it might be worth stating that these problems have been resolved and your circumstances are now very different. If you have any good character references, mention these as they will also be useful to the employer.
Please see our guidance on disclosing criminal records for further advice about preparing your disclosure statements.
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