Every job application form that I’ve seen poses the question, “Have you had a criminal conviction?” I can honestly answer no. Some expand that question to ask whether you’re had a caution or bind over order. Any job that required a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check will highlight any caution received.
At the time of my job application, I had no convictions or cautions to declare and had received a clean CRB. CRB checks are renewed after three years and the next one done on me would reveal that I now have a caution. This is a summary of what is means to receive a caution:
A police caution formally known as a simple caution has the following purposes:
- to deal quickly and simply with less serious offenders;
- to divert them from unnecessary appearance in the criminal courts; and
- to reduce the chances of their re-offending.
A police caution is a formal warning given to adults who admit they are guilty of first-time minor offences. A police caution does form a part of a person's criminal record. A caution may adversely affect both employment and travel prospects A caution may be considered in court in the event of the offender being tried for a similar offence. A caution remains in police records along with photographs, fingerprints and any other samples taken at the time, although cautions (including reprimands and warnings) are covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 so will become spent immediately Furthermore, simple cautions normally expire after 5 years However, even after cautions expire, any cautions and the associated crimes may continue to be presented in trials involving the cautioned person.
A caution is intended to act as a first official warning and to deter people from getting involved in crime.
I’d received my caution on Thursday evening and was due to work the weekend shift. I arrived early to speak to my line manager and inform her about my caution.
The news came as a shock. There had been nothing in my performance or conduct to suggest that I was bad news for my employers. I’d not told the organisation of any of my problems prior to this. I felt that there was no need. No one declares their whole life story while being interviewed for a job. I’d answered all the questions they had asked me. I hadn’t lied on my application forms. Working within mental health and the surrounding stigma, I did hope that the organisation would understand the mental pressures I’d been under for years as a Domestic Violence victim, and the poor state of mind I was in when I committed the crime. I knew that they had employed staff with criminal convictions. I was completely honest with my line manager, telling her the full details of the caution offence and the circumstances behind it.
After finishing speaking to me, my line manager left the site. Fifty minutes later as I was preparing to start my shift, I received a telephone call from her summoning me to another location to speak with a senior manager.