Over 400 of the people who applied for teaching positions in Kent over the last two years had criminal convictions. The 408 applicants had 809 convictions between them, meaning that some applicants for positions in schools had more than one conviction or that applicants may have applied for multiple jobs. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) provided these figures in response to a Freedom of Information request.

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The offences

The most common offences revealed were for drink-driving and shoplifting. A total of 125 counts of drink-driving were flagged up over the period, and 75 convictions for shoplifting. 12 applicants had convictions for assault, with one conviction for assaulting a police officer. Worryingly for applicants for positions working with children, one person had a conviction for wilfully mistreating or neglecting a child and another for being drunk whilst looking after a child.

Other convictions included wounding causing grievous bodily harm, indecent exposure, and false imprisonment. There were also convictions for voyeurism, using profane language, arson, and failing to pay a train fare.

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Disclosure and Barring Service

DBS applications for people applying for work in a range of sectors, including education, are referred to police forces so that their records can be examined. In addition to workers in schools, applicants for positions in social services, healthcare and private hire transport need DBS checks. Basic DBS checks will reveal details of all the spent and unspent convictions that are held in central police records and any cautions, reprimands or final warnings.

Enhanced DBS checks also include relevant information that is held in local police records. An enhanced DBS with list check is the same but also incorporates a check of the barred lists so that individuals who have been barred from working with vulnerable adults or children can be identified. It is an offence for an employer to take on anyone who fails this check. DBS checks can be obtained from organisations such as http://www.carecheck.co.uk/dbs-checks.

The government website points out that is against the law for employers to refuse an applicant a job because they have a spent conviction unless a DBS check reveals that they are unsuitable.

Convictions that carry a sentence of four years or less become spent after a rehabilitation period that varies depending on the severity of the offence.