Protection of Freedoms Bill

Memorandum submitted by a member of the public (PF 22)

While working as a music teacher, in 2007, an allegation was made by one of my students, namely that I had thrown an apple at him, causing bruising and grazing to the chest.

I was immediately suspended pending an investigation (internal, not police). Unknown to me there were preliminary ‘multi agency strategy meetings’ held almost immediately, where it was concluded that I had harmed a child and behaved in a way that indicated I was unsuitable to work with children.

This how my first disclosure appeared:

On 29th October 2007 whilst working as a teacher it was reported that Mr ____ assaulted a pupil aged 12, by throwing an apple at him causing bruising and grazing to the chest. Multi agency strategy meetings took place on 6th November 2007 and 16th November 2007. The conclusion of this was that Mr _____had behaved in a way that harmed a child, committed an offence that would have warranted a criminal investigation and behaved in a way that indicates he is unsuitable to work with children at this time and was duly suspended from his position.

"Mr _____ admitted issues with alcohol, and prescription and non prescription drugs (over the counter medication) at the time but denied this impaired his ability to fulfil his teaching role. Witnesses stated that it had not appeared a deliberate act against the pupil, but that Mr _____ had lost control. Mr _____ denied the assault and no further police action was taken as pupil’s parents did not wish to pursue as a criminal matter and were content to be dealt with as a local education authority disciplinary case."

This was before I was interviewed, or any witnesses were interviewed and in fact before the internal investigation had even begun. My suspension was not as a result of any findings but rather a non disciplinary action to enable further investigation.

I resigned my post after reaching a compromise agreement with the school, including a good reference and a lump sum. I had been, by this time, suspended for nearly 5 months. (School policy on dealing with this kind of internal investigation is draconian to say the least. I was not allowed to contact collegues or go within a certain distance of the school).

I did not want to go back because I thought that the kids would give me hell, as may some of the parents, regardless of any findings in my favour from the investigation. I was not aware at this point of what would appear on my crb, in never occured to me and I certainly wasn’t informed that anything would be likely to appear there, either by the education authority, my union rep. or the school itself.

I then worked with a supply agency until my CRB came through and on it were the full details of the allegation and the conclusion that I was unfit to work with children and that I had harmed a child. I was immediately sacked.

That was the start of a 3 year long battle to get back to teaching, which I have only just been able to do ( I secured a job as a music teacher in January 2001, but only after the Police finally amended my disclosure). Since the initial statement appeared on my CRB the Police have amended the disclosure 6 times.

Firstly to remove the incredible statement that I ‘had issues with prescription and non prescription drugs.’ This after I had approached my Headteacher some time before the allegation had been made to confide that I was suffering from stress and had been to see my doctor who had prescribed a short course of anti depressants, and also that I was not sleeping well and was taking ‘Nytol’! After a letter from my doctor they removed this.

I had also confided to my headteacher that I was concerned about my levels of weekend drinking. This was 4 months before the allegation was made. Even though this had absolutely nothing to do with details surrounding the allegation it appears that the Head informed the multi agency meeting of this, and it also appeared on my disclosure.

I had never attended work under the influence of alcohol and it had not been suggested by anyone, including the school, that I was under the influence of alcohol on the day the allegation was made or had ever been at work under the influence of alcohol. Why did this information appear on a criminal record check?

After 18 months and much prompting, and having to issue a ‘subject access request’ the council finally sent the ‘official’ findings and conclusion of the internal investigation to the Police in June 2009, despite the fact that one of their action points from the initial multi agency meetings was that they would pass on any findings to the parties concerned.

I also gained copies of the witness statements. NONE of the witnesses supported the version of events given by the accuser. It still is not clear, as the council have been unable to tell me, where they got the original statement ‘witnesses said it had not appeared a deliberate act’ from. There were 28 children in the room that day, all facing me, and none of the children, during recorded interview, said they saw me throw an apple.

The council conclusion was that ‘there is no reason to suggest that Mr---– is unsuitable to work with children’ and that’ ..witnesses said that Mr _____ had Not thrown the apple’.

Despite this, and having spent about £6000 with a solicitor writing letters, the Police refused to amend the statement any further. It still essentially said that I threw an apple, causing injury to a child. There was no intent on my part but that I had behaved in a way that indicated I was unsuitable to work with children. Even though the multi agency meetings were just part of a preliminary investigation, the Police were using the minutes from those meetings as the basis for the content of my disclosure.

Despite the change in law in October 2009, where the House of Lords said that the risk of threat to children had to be balanced against the effect including any information would have on an individual, and that the correct balance had to be struck, it appears that the Police have not changed their blanket approach at all.

The only completed investigation (there was no Police investigation in this and I was never interviewed or charged with anything by the Police) concluded that there was no reason to suggest that I was unsuitable to work with children. The witnesses supported my version of events, the Head gave me a good reference, I had, up until this point, an unblemished character and the education authority cleared me. Yet, until 2011 I was not able to work as a teacher because schools and agency’s did not want to take what was a perceived risk. I tried and that was the message I got.

It also stopped me from getting a job in many other areas, as enhanced disclosures are becoming more and more common as part of job applications. So I was only able to work in very low paid, unskilled, temporary jobs.

The only remaining option was to apply to the courts for a judicial review of my case. In response to this the Police finally amended my disclosure and a consent order was agreed between the two parties.

My disclosure now reads:

In October 2007 while working as a music teacher it was reported that Mr ____ assaulted a pupil by throwing an apple at him, causing bruising and grazing to the chest. Mr ____ was duly suspended from his pending a council investigation.

Mr ____ denied the allegation and witnesses said that Mr ____ had not thrown the apple.

The council concluded that there is no reason to suggest that Mr ___ is unsuitable to work with children.

I accepted this final amendment and this is what now appears on my CRB disclosure under the ‘Additional Information section’.

This newly amended version has enabled me to return to work as a teacher (the final amendment was made in August 2010 and I was working as a teacher again by October 2010, three years after the allegation was made).

As I am a teacher every time I apply for a job this will appear, as all

teachers rightly have to undergo an enhanced CRB check. This information will

remain on my CRB disclosure indefinitely despite the fact I have no criminal

convictions and despite the fact that the only completed investigation into the

matter concluded that there was no reason to suggest that I was unsuitable to work with

children, and that witnesses confirmed my version of events.

Including this information on my CRB serves no purpose other

than to hinder me should I wish to seek employment that requires disclosure in

the future, and could certainly leave potential employees with some questions to

ask. It is not criminal information and should therefore not appear on my criminal record check. What is the purpose of, in effect, saying, ‘We’re just letting you know that this person has not done anything wrong...’.

I am supplying this information in the hope that one of the results of the

protections of freedoms bill will be to remove the 'Additional information'

section from the CRB disclosure and to include only relevant criminal


The 'additional information' section flies in the face of our 'innocent until

guilty' system that is one of the foundations of our human rights.

If a new common sense approach to the vetting and barring scheme is to be

followed then 'common sense' should dictate that it is a disproportionate

reaction to include non criminal and irrelevant information on a disclosure simply because the Police hold it.

March 2011