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Police Caution

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by WarpedDesign, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. I would appreciate some advice. I know there are a lot of threads on police cautions already but I have not found one involving similar cicumstances to my own.
    I have applied to do a PGCE in English, but unfortunately I was too late this year, as the three universities I applied to were unable to consider my application due to becoming fully subscribed soon after I applied. I will apply again next year, unless I get lucky with clearing. Anyway, that's another story.
    In my youth and very early twenties I had a serious drug problem with crack and heroin. In 2001, I was cautioned for possesion of heroin. I never would have accepted this caution and took my chances with the magistrates court and a good solicitor, were it not for the arresting officer promosing not to raid my parents house if I admitted my guilt and subsequently accept a caution, which to be fair to the man, he stuck to.
    I have been drug free for many years now - they simply are not a factor in my life - and I can say with as much assurance as any ex-addict can, that it will remain the case.
    I will shortly be applying under the Freedom of Information Act to the police force involved to make sure that this caution remains on my record. I know that they never get expunged despite the outright lies of police officers trying to persuade people to accept one (3 - 5 years blah blah blah), however they are not always recorded and due to human and computer error they can sometimes be misplaced or deleted. So I might get lucky in that respect.
    Failing that, my question is... will it be likely to prohibit universities from taking me on and from schools employing me?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. You will realise that involvement with hard drugs is viewed very seriously by training providers and schools, and when you disclose it (as you should because if you don't and it comes up in Enhanced Disclosure, your integrity will be called into question and makes the situation a lot worse), they will want to investigate it. They may ask you to provide further details, appear before a panel for questioning, and the final decision may not be taken until your case is discussed by the criminal record panel (or whatever it may be called) of your uni.
    Don't assume that if somehow your caution isn't recorded on Police National Computer, it will never come up on Enhanced Disclosure, as the procedure involves asking police forces for any discretionary information they may hold about you. It will not be shown to you, but will be disclosed to whoever initiated CRB check.
    Of course having a history of serious hard drug use in the past doesn't mean you will automatically be declared unfit to train, or unfit to teach for good. Much depends on details, mitigating circumstances, and whether you can convince them that it will never recur. Also the same issue may come up in your health questionnaire, if you have received any medical or psychiatric treatment or counselling about it.
    There is no need to declare anty of it until you are interviewed and received an offer, but you need to be clear in your mind how you are going to present your evidence and the line of reasoning you are going to use. Each uni, and each school when you come to apply for a job, will deal with the issue in their own way, so you won't know what the outcome is going to be. Some will be more sympathetic and willing to give you a chance, while others may be more cautious. I'm sorry this will be hanging over your head for some time to come, but much depends on how, in your own word, you've been able to learn from your mistakes and have been able to move on.
     
  3. Thanks for your in-depth reply. You seem very knowledgable. Could you clarify a couple things for me?
    Are you certain that under the Freedom of Information Act I will not got all the information the police hold on me? Or in other words, they will provide universities and employers with information which that they will not give to applicants applying under the Freedom of Information Act? That seems outrageous.
    Also, I did receive help through the NHS for helping to end my addiction. So can my medical records also be examined (I'm not sure if you were implying that or not)?
    Thanks again.
     
  4. I don't know if a police force can withold information requested under FOI but then discloses under Enhanced Disclosure. But the way the Enhanced Disclosure request is worded, the police has a wide discretion to include all sorts of details they hold about you. And they can withold information under FOI request if it is considered to be in the public interest not to disclose it (like unsuitable people having unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults).
    What I said was that in addition to CRB check, you will have to complete a health questionnaire, in which any medical treatment, consultation or counselling you've received need to be disclosed, and if you have received help with drug addiction, you must disclose it. This will then be dealt with by the occupational health unit of your uni, which is quite distinct from criminal record. They may indeed request access to your medical record, ask your GP or any other doctor you've consulted for a report, even a face-to-face interview with you, to determine if you are medically fit to (train to) teach.
     
  5. How long do Mr Meaner cautions stay on your CRB for, i.e. Drunk in a public place? There is some cloudiness around this area and, when I spoke to the Police about this, they were even unsure if the above caution would show on my record.
     
  6. Your right it is a cloudy issue but I have done a lot of research into cautions and the bottom line is that on an enhanced CRB disclosure they will show up (unless due to some error your details are lost or deleted, which is rare but still possible). In fact, since the Ian Huntley business, all this kind of data handling has been taken much more seriously.
    At the end of 2007, the ICO took four police forces to court for refusing to delete very old (like 15 or 20 years) cautions of people who only offended once. I couldn't find the outcome of this.
    I spoke to the police force today who apprehended me for my scallywag behaviour and they said that up until 2002 they deleted cautions after five years if the person had not offended again. However, since that date they have stopped deleting them at all, which they attributed to the Soham tragedy. So in my case it is very likely the details are on record.
    The problem with cautions is that there is no clear legislation governing them as it's not included under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. So the procedures governing how long they are kept on record varies from police force to police force.
    The older this incident was the more chance you have of it not showing up on an enhanced disclosure check. The best way to find out (as I mentioned above) is to contact the police force involved under the Freedom of Information Act and request all known information on you. It costs £10 and they are obliged to provided you with everything they have as long as it will not hamper an ongoing investigation.
     
  7. The trouble with relying on your caution (or anything short of a conviction) not showing up on Enhanced Disclosure is that you are still obliged to declare all cautions, reprimands, bind overs as well as convictions no matter how long ago they happened, as teaching is exempt from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, and nothing can be regarded as 'spent'. So regardless of anything showing up on CRB, you still have to declare each time you go for Enhanced Disclosure for the rest of your career. Of course, being drunk and disorderly at age 18 for a teacher now aged 40 is of no significance to potential employers, while it may be to a uni you are applying to when aged 21. Relying on a technicality of somehow your caution not showing up on CRB is considered dishonest, and if it ever comes to the attention of the school that you lied, it can lead to an instant dismissal from a teaching post, and if your uni finds out, your offer of a place may be cancelled or you may be ordered to leave the course if you've already started.
     

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