ACRO Police Certificate to end my career?

By Smiling Camel - 5 Feb 16 12:56 PM

I have worked in the airline industry since the age of 16. I am now aged 58. I have held many senior management positions all of which involve making decisions associated with aviation safety and large amounts of finance. I would like to think I have responsibility and integrity. But alas, I find myself in an awkward situation due to past old history. I have just been offered a good position in Saudi Arabia with an airline. I have worked there before but they now have a new requirement to submit a Police Certificate as part of the work residence visa process. I cant remember the exact date but in the early eighties I was given a camera by my land lady at the time. I placed the camera in my bedroom and was not really interested in it but to my shock a few weeks later there was a police raid of the premises and the camera was seized as stolen property. My land lady was charged and I was also charged and convicted for either handling or being in procession of stolen property. (cant remember all the details). I remember being fined 75 pounds. The problem I have is that I dont know if this will appear on the PNC record. I dont feel comfortable bringing up this one and only mistake after 30+ years. The application form for ACRO Police Certificates or access (SAR) request seems farcical as there is a question asking you to tick a box and list any known convictions. In my mind this basically means that even if they have not updated the PNC with your record, they will research the details provided and then update the record on PNC accordingly. This doesnt seem very fair for someone with an old record that is best forgotten about. It seems that two cases of a similar nature were deemed unlawful by the high court recently.
Can anyone give me advice? ACRO website indicates that the certificate should not be used for employment purposes but in the case of a work visa, it is directly related. I cant see my work visa being approved if the Certificate doesnt state No Trace. I am sure No LIVING Trace will be an automatic rejection. Maybe I have a good case to take to the high court to include a loss in potential earnings? I see that I have a life sentence now after 30 years.
By forever changes - 7 May 09 7:06 PM

why not do a dbs check to see if it shows up, and if it doesn't dont declare anything. I've heard of old convictions getting 'lost'
By JohnL - 10 Sep 15 1:13 PM

You'll only be able to do a basic dbs check which will only show unspent convictions, so that won't help.

You can submit an ACRO subject access request yourself online via their website for a £10 fee, however as you say if it has got 'lost' then the form asks you to confirm any cautions, convictions etc that you have and you may be doing more harm
Than good.

The other option is to write a letter to the ACRO requesting a subject access request and not use their form, send a cheque for £10 and send copies of the required ID documents. It might work?

Either way, SARs take upto 40 days so it may not work with your time frame?
By BenS - 5 Aug 15 6:55 PM

I agree with the above comment, address a SAR to the police, bypassing the form if it asks you to volunteer information.
[Edit: removed information I was wrong about]

If it does show up, is it definitely going to be a red flag, considering that it was a very minor offence and committed so long ago? Also, I imagine the fact that you have already previously been allowed to live in Saudi Arabia works in your favour. I can imagine Saudi Arabia being extremely strict on certain (even minor) types of offences such as drugs and sexual offences, but yours isn't one of those taboo offences. Maybe you have a chance even if it does show up?

Good luck.

Post Edited (BenS) : 12/02/2016 14:21:58 (GMT+1)

By Deb S - 16 Sep 11 1:36 PM

Hi All

Sadly, the filtering process that used on DBS Certificates doesn't apply to Police Certificates. There is a process whereby very old cautions and convictions can be 'stepped down' but as SM says they are then recorded as 'No Live Trace'. Most organisations will know that this means that there is some criminal record information held on the Police National Computer.

It would definitely be worth you taking a letter to your local police station requesting an SAR. If you are looking for this type of work you'll definitely need to know what information is held about you on the PNC.

Good luck

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By Smiling Camel - 5 Feb 16 12:56 PM

Thanks all. Appreciate your responses. Food for thought.
By Smiling Camel - 5 Feb 16 12:56 PM

I was pleased when my hard copy contract and formalities from Saudi Arabia arrived this week by courier. After some further thoughts, soul searching and stress. I have rejected the 100K per annum offer for "personal reasons" ,this because the thought of digging up the past would have been too embarrassing. I would be working with a Management team that I have worked for in the past and the possibility of reputation damage is something I could not personally accept. Rather than rattling a possible "hornets nest", I will let "sleeping dogs" lie. I will try and get an SAR sometime in the next 40 days. I didnt want to lie on the Police Certificate application form. I am sure I would be accused of fraud if I chose that route. Basically it means that at the age of 58, I shall remain unemployed in the UK rather than returning to employment in the Middle East. I have also realized that in the UK we have an "ageist" approach to employment. People over 55 have enough problems getting work let alone bringing up black marks from 30+ years ago. I suppose I can count my blessings that this is a fairly new requirement. During the past 25 years I have worked in the UK,Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and this is the first time I have been requested to provide an ACRO Police Certificate for an employment visa.

I do believe that there should be a campaign to get such old minor convictions removed from the PNC, not just DBS, CRB, especially when it comes to employment visa reasons. The step down process is really not satisfactory when it comes to the statement "No Living Trace". As Deb says, most organizations will know there is something possibly lurking in the shadows. This is not my understanding of an acceptable "rehabilitation". If the UK is happy by law that a person can apply a spent conviction non-disclosure by policy, then this should also apply to Police Certificates. I understand the importance of protecting vulnerable people but this policy on the ACRO Police Certificate is discriminating against professional people that want to get on and work. I wonder how may Pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers, oil industry staff etc etc can no longer work in Saudi Arabia because of their new requirement to provide a UK Police Certificate requirements. Its also costing the UK money. I am sure the UK government would prefer that I worked rather than be unemployed. Thats another 100K that wont be spent in the UK! This doesnt seem a good policy when they are trying to improve the economy.

My other area for campaign would be to amend the application forms for PNC. When people apply I would expect this to be mainly for immigration and/or employment reasons. Why should it be necessary to disclose past UK convictions on the forms when the whole intent is to establish what the PNC record shows. This seems ridiculous. I would imagine that if a past conviction is really serious, then there is something drastically wrong with the system if its not recorded on the PNC. Why should I mention that I stole the farmers apples 99 years ago and invite a PNC update!
By BenS - 5 Aug 15 6:55 PM

Thanks for letting us know the outcome. It sounds like a very hard decision you had to make with that much money on offer but at least you won't be nervously wondering the whole time.

I of course fully agree with the police certificate business. I don't know why they would consider a crime non-existent for an employer in the UK but still there for a foreign employer or any other circumstance where you might need a police certificate instead of a DBS check.

Hopefully you will be able to find something in the UK - or indeed anywhere in the EU - with your experience? Sorry, that must sound like a broken record to you. Does your line of work require a DBS check in the UK, i.e. is it exempt from the ROA? If not then there is no problem at all, and if so, it is such a long time ago and a minor conviction that it really might not matter and the employer might be understanding, as can be seen in other anecdotes if you look around this forum. There are people on here with sexual, violent and drug offences who have managed to find decent employment. Good luck either way.
By Smiling Camel - 5 Feb 16 12:56 PM

Hi Ben. Thanks for your support. My line of work does normally require a DBS if an airport airside pass is required in the UK. In fact that came back fine a few years ago when I was working at an airport in the South West of England. I went through the same stress at that time and had a great relief when a clear result came back from Scotland. I would probably need an enhanced check these days for most airports. I may try the self employed route now and at my age. Consultancy etc etc This latest offer was probably my last opportunity for an overseas position and it's very disappointing that the Police Certificate is a new requirement. I had no problems or any questions regarding background in the past. I still strongly believe that some "common sense" should prevail from ACRO. They must realize that by using the term No Living Trace they are preventing certain people from moving on with their lives, sometimes decades after the event. Because such similiar issues have reached the High Court (mainly related to DBS and CRB) and have been declared unlawful, I believe the same logic should be applied to Police Certificates which in fact can be even more damaging to reputation. I am keen to take this up in court against ACRO as this is definitely a human rights issue. Why should I be stopped in my tracks? Police Certificates should show No Trace if a minor conviction has been well and truly spent. This ACRO Police certificate just seems to be a convenient way or method for "powers to be " to simply skip around the intent of the Rehabilitation of offenders Act 1974. In other words there is no rehabilitation permitted if people want to emigrate or work overseas. Do you know of any good lawyers that specialize in this type of area. Human rights I guess but also loss of potential earnings are involved here.