In explaining my 8 year gap in employment, I try desperately to keep 'my own counsel' and reveal little. Not a good position when you are trying to sell yourself. When it becomes evident that an interviewer is seeking a clear explanation of events leading to my unemployment; where lying and deception are not an option, I am faced with revealing all. I only need to say the three words "I was arrested . . " and any interview effectively is ended.
To date, the reaction has been for the interviewer to recoil. Qualifying any statement generates a high level of interest, but does petition the lack of understanding of exoneration. The shock on the facially blood drained interviewer has often lead to awkward finalisations of any interview. Presenting documents about my exoneration and 'exceptional case' procedure to remove me from the PNC does not give much recovery to the interviewers' interest in me and I recognise deep down the fear of others. I have been advised by naive employment 'advisors', those too willing to believe life is simple and fair, to not mention my arrest - and fabricate the information on my CV.
There is an element of doubt, apprehension, fear and distrust in the minds of many towards someone who has been accused of a crime, let alone a serious allegation of a crime which relates to the exploitation of minors. Added to this is the 'court of public opinion'.
The tabloid newspapers would guide us to believing that every male whose primary employment, in education or caring for others, is a deviant. Of course, there is a solution:
Summarily 'Sack' all male staff! - Positively discriminate and get rid of them from our schools and care environments. Then no potential risk of deviancy, nor actual deviancy will exist!?
Ignore the call from academics, which keep appealing for more males to be appointed as social workers, teachers, nurses and childcarers. Ignore the constant stream of expert ('what do they know anyway') studies indicating that children, especially boys, benefit from male interaction or they can develop warped attitudes and behaviours, when most of their lives are spent with females .Having stable males in Education and Care environments provides positive role models, which would otherwise not be part of developing childrens lives, if males were not in post.
Pander to the bizarre and positively discriminate, then just appoint females.
(Oops!) I nearly overlooked some basic research, which we tend to find complexing as paedophilia is identified by too many professionals as an exclusively male behaviour.
Researchers from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF), a child protection charity that deals with sex offenders, said its studies confirmed that a "fair proportion" of child abusers were women.
The reports finding went on to say " . . results indicated that up to 20% of convicted UK paedophiles were women. "
With the ever-increasing evidence and prosecutions being against women, we could go the 'whole hog' and consider not employing females in care and education environments, as well! (Of course, I'm being flippant!)
My reasons for mentioning all the above is associated with my belief that the main profiling model used by the Police for offenders, of serious sexual offences, is 'Male, over 50, single, working in Education or Care'. I earnestly believe the Police thought they had 'Mr.Big' (when I was arrested) and treated me as such.
Whilst waiting in the custody cell I thought about the 'potentiality of outcome'. I had good grounding in 'Safe Guarding Employment Protocols in Education' as a former level 3 trainer. The Children's Act 2004 led to clear guidance on when, how and the methodology of employing someone. I had from my experience of dealing with my employer, the full confidence about their reactions and their rapid change of view towards me on the arrest. They also had their 'good name' to protect.
I had become an embarrassment. I could imagine the conversations amongst the senior management team of the college, "Oh my god! What happens if the parents find out? , or even "There must be some substance to it".
In September 2012, having been released under Police bail conditions, I was not to engage with anyone under 16, Therefore, I was not able to do my job. There was a side issue which would have made my functioning difficult anyway - I was completely traumatised - so would have not been functioning at full speed. Bursting into tears randomly would not have been seen as too professional!
Several weeks after my arrest, my employers 'decided' to sack me!
My employers concluded that because I had not communicated with them, my employment was ended - in a letter they wrote: " Having regard to the course of conduct you have followed I can only conclude that you have resigned from your employment" Part of the content of the letter said that they had asked the police to pass on a message that I should make contact with them after my release. Sadly, the police failed to relay the message to me. Before this letter, I had not had any communication from the college. However, the Police had conveyed a message that the college had suspended me.
The college did not have a Human Resources Department, so any discussions were only had with their solicitors. There was a clear case for "Unfair Dismissal' unfolding and they had a swift response from me with the support of a solicitor. They responded with an offer for me to leave without any animosity. The solicitor told me what I must do to stay compliant with legal expectations and ultimately the course of action was my choice; between challenging this via the route of a tribunal or accepting the offer. If I accepted the process of redress through an Employment Tribunal, there was an 80% chance that the payout would be very small (a couple of months salary equivalent) . The solicitor advised I could be better served to accept an offer from the college and get a better settlement within a 'Compromise Agreement', which in itself was only marginally bigger.
There is a common myth, that industrial payouts in compensation resulting from Industrial/Employment Tribunals are quite high. There have been some note able and sensational cases, reported in the press over the last twenty years. Time has moved on. This is not so with most of the cases of unfair dismissal today, in 2015. At the time of my potential claim, the government had already changed the process of claim and tribunal cases, many of which were taking up to a year to resolve. The cold reality is that most compensation payments are very small. It's a process of working through a 'formulae of potentiality' of the claimant getting replacement employment. This formulae is skills and age-related and is nothing to do with location or circumstances.
In 2013 the government changed the fees structure making it more difficult for anyone to claim unless they could stomp up £250 in admin costs. We have seen the demise of another route for anyone less wealthy, to seek legal redress against wrongdoers. Recent reports have identified that the number of claims has reduced by 58%, between 2013 and 14. Hence we have seen little reporting on industrial tribunals. Maybe because the payments are not sensational enough to be reported by the media and secondly the volume of claimants has reduced.
I signed the 'Compromise Agreement' and the agreed small ('amount never to be disclosed') sum was paid to me. Employment laws only protected me for 24 months of employment, I had only worked 22 for my employers. I think they recognised that some messy litigation was going to 'smear' their good name. I was given an 'acknowledgement' of having worked at the college.
In April 2016, having provided evidence to the college that I had been exonerated, my former employers provided me with a 'pro forma' character reference. It is a very strong supportive reference, but only had points of reference to my work prior to September 2012 and does not satisfy the demand by prospective employers for 'recent references'.
8 years on and being of no interest to the police, released from any bail in 2012, I have not been charged or convicted of any offence, - with no further action to be taken; with the removal of all data, DNA, fingerprints etc,. associated with my arrest being granted by a Chief Constable using 'exceptional procedures' to remove all data from the Police National Computer (PNC), all data has been removed from UNIFI (local database system used by the Police) and any enquiry from DBS (formerly CRB) has now produced 'clean' enhanced DBS certificate (as I have one in my possession), yet . .
The greatest of all questions:
"If I were a candidate for employment with you; subject to me meeting all the role requirements and being the most experienced, professionally qualified, of good character, capable, but a little dented etc,. would you risk employing me knowing about this accusation?"
(Note: A very small number of people, believed to be one in every two thousand, who appeal for removal of information from the PNC and deletion of DNA, fingerprints, photograph and their records to be destroyed are granted this by Chief Constables as Data Controllers.)