An example of a ‘strong’ disclosure.
In our previous blog, What not to say when making a disclosure, we provided an example of what a ‘weak’ criminal record disclosure might look like. Using some of the elements of that disclosure we are now going to highlight how the disclosure can be improved so that the applicant provides enough information to the employer in order to allay any concerns they may have. The letter below is an example only and should not be used as a template. Remember: a disclosure should be in your own words and specific to the job that you are applying for.
I have some criminal convictions. ✗
I am applying for the role of x because (explain what it is you like about the job). I have previously worked (tell them about relevant previous experience) OR I am interested in this role because (explain your motivations for applying). ✓
I have some convictions. In February 2010 I was arrested for shoplifting and got a community order and a fine. It wasn’t my fault as my friend put pressure on me to do it. In March 2010 I was arrested for stealing some CDs from a shop in the town centre. I received a fine and I was given more community service hours. In 2011 I was arrested another three times for shoplifting. Two of these times it wasn’t even me but the police just picked on me because I was already known to them. Later in 2011 I was arrested for burglary and criminal damage. I went to prison for nine months. ✗
I must inform you that I have a number of criminal convictions. Between 2010 and 2011 I was convicted of a number of shoplifting offences where I received fines and was ordered to undertake community service. In 2011 I was convicted of burglary and criminal damage and spent nine months in prison. (Here you may explain the circumstances around the offending and all of the positive things you achieved whilst in prison.) ✓
I am not a risk to your company as I think that I would be a good employee and I am no longer shoplifting. ✗
Since my last offence, I have (mention if you have a family, partner, children), (mention any volunteer positions or positions of trust), (mention help sought or support gained in dealing with previous problems). ✓
Below is a short example of what a ‘strong’ disclosure might look like.
I am applying for the drug support worker role as I believe that I have the relevant skills and experience. I have four years’ experience in advice and support roles, including three years as an advice and guidance coordinator and one year as a volunteer supporting drug users. These roles involved providing peer support to drug users, listening to their problems and helping them to find solutions. My last paid role was working as a housing coordinator. I was recently made redundant from this position. I would very much like to take up employment with your company as this would give me the opportunity to continue my career development. During my time spent working in housing, I had direct contact with customers which was both face-to-face and over the telephone. I very much enjoyed this aspect of the job.
I must inform you that I have a number of criminal convictions. Between 2010 and 2011 I was convicted of a number of shoplifting offences where I received fines and was ordered to undertake community service. In 2011 I was convicted of burglary and criminal damage and spent nine months in prison. I was placed in a children’s home at an early age and had a difficult upbringing. Due to physical and mental abuse that I suffered at the children’s home I started to take drugs and committed the offences in order to feed my habit. I make no excuses for my behaviour and accept that what I did was wrong. Whilst in prison I got help to get clean and I have been off drugs for the last four years. I took up a prisoner support role as a peer adviser and helped to run various projects, which included a service where prisoners could sell items they had made to members of the public via outside businesses. I also gained qualifications in counselling, advice and guidance.
I cannot begin to say how much I regret the actions that led to my imprisonment. My previous employers were made fully aware of my convictions and were very supportive. My aim now is to find employment so that I can support my wife and six-year-old daughter, and help others who might be experiencing similar struggles to those I have previously faced. I appreciate that you may have concerns about my past given the nature of the role, but I can reassure you that I have addressed my substance misuse and offending and have demonstrated that I am able to hold positions of responsibility without presenting a risk to myself or others. My honesty has never ever been in doubt and I can assure you that if you were to offer me this position I would give my best at all times. I hope you are in a position to offer me a chance to prove myself to you. I would be prepared to discuss this further at interview.
It’s difficult for individuals and people helping them to know exactly what needs to be disclosed and the best way to do so. Nacro delivers interactive workshops for front-line practitioners and advisers to increase their confidence to support people with criminal records into employment, education and training.
Find out more about our criminal records disclosure training here.
If you are involved in managing and interpreting criminal record information, whether it be for recruitment, admissions or any other risk assessment purpose, read our next blog ‘Interpreting criminal record information: reading between the lines’ or follow us on Twitter @Nacro_.