Applying for a job with probation? Do you know what you need to disclose?

People with criminal records are often keen to use their experience to help others in prison or on probation. Lived experience of the criminal justice system is now recognised as an asset by many employers in the sector – including Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

Last year they published the Probation Workforce Strategy 2020-2023 which states their intention to select the most capable candidates regardless of their background and enhance their recruitment approach to attract the right people in the right places, including ex-offenders, where appropriate, and those with broad and varied life experience.

HMPPS are now recruiting probation officers so if you are interested in helping others move on positively in their lives, now is your chance.

Knowing what to disclose

If you’ve got a criminal record and you’re applying for a new job or volunteering role, it’s always important to know if and what you need to disclose.

Make the mistake of over or under-disclosing and you run the risk of your application being unsuccessful.

Prison and probation roles are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 so cautions and spent convictions can be taken into consideration. You will need to disclose these during the application process. However, these jobs are not exempt from the filtering rules and applicants do not need to disclose filtered cautions or convictions.

Find out if your criminal record is filtered

Some cautions and spent convictions can become ‘protected’. Once protected, they are ‘filtered’ meaning they won’t be disclosed on standard or enhanced DBS checks.

Filtered cautions and convictions do not appear on a standard or enhanced DBS check and don’t need to be disclosed (except for a very few jobs – see below). However, they are not ‘removed’ or ‘wiped’ from police records.

The filtering rules changed in November 2020 so use our guidance to work out whether your caution or conviction is filtered.

Are any jobs exempt from the filtering rules?

There are a small number of jobs that are exempt from the filtering rules but these do not include jobs in the prison or probation service. The application of these rules to sensitive employment – namely as a police support worker – was tested in court in 2017.

Jobs that are exempt from the filtering rules include:

  • judicial appointments
  • constables and police cadets
  • employment in the Serious Fraud Office or National Crime Agency
  • HMRC Commissioners
  • The Official Solicitor and their deputy
  • certain appointments to the office of Public Trustee
  • any office, employment or other work which is concerned with the establishment of, operation of, or access to a database under section 12 of the Children Act 2004.

Do I need to disclose a filtered criminal record for a probation role?

The recruitment site says:

You must disclose all convictions, cautions and absolute or conditional discharges – however long ago they occurred

But this is not quite right.

Prison and probation roles are covered by filtering rules, meaning applicants are legally entitled to withhold this information. We contacted HMPPS’s Operational Support Group to confirm. They told us that:

Filtered cautions and convictions do not need to be disclosed, as these are not considered as part of the vetting decision making process.

As the vetting process does not take into account filtered cautions/convictions, collecting this information could be considered excessive and therefore a breach of the General Data Protection Regulations.

For more information

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