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Criminal convictions revealed after Suffolk teaching job applications

PUBLISHED: 09:32 07 May 2012

Norwich Magistrates' Court. Picture by Adrian Judd for EDP

Norwich Magistrates' Court. Picture by Adrian Judd for EDP

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MORE than 270 convictions were uncovered following checks on people applying for teaching jobs in Suffolk, new figures have revealed.

More than 150 checks have been carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) since 2010, and 342 police actions, including 278 convictions, have been flagged up, such as wounding, theft, possessing offensive weapons and common assault on a child.

The new statistics, revealed following a Freedom of Information request, show that out of 6,256 CRB checks carried out on people applying for roles as teachers in Suffolk, 155 of those checks uncovered criminal records.

A spokeswoman at the CRB said that the 155 records then revealed a total of 278 convictions, plus 64 cautions, warnings and reprimands.

She said it was not known how many applicants these checks related to as people could apply for more than one check to be carried out at any time. Graham Newman, Suffolk county councillor with responsibility for children and young people services, said that it was vital to remain vigilant when carrying out criminal record checks.

Mr Newman said: “We need to err on the side of caution when it comes to matters such as these. Some issues might by very minor incidents and when it comes to those, it would be down to each school to determine whether that applicant is suitable for the role they are applying for.

“We need checks like this in place but we also need to ensure that people like Ian Huntley don’t slip through the net. We must be vigilant.”

Crimes listed on the checks span from theft of a bicycle and speeding to rioting and assaulting police officers. Nationally, criminal records checks have helped to stop at least 130,000 unsuitable people from working or volunteering with children or vulnerable people.

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers, echoed Mr Newman’s sentiments, but criticised the length of time it takes for CRB checks to be completed.

“It would be down to each school to look at the information provided from the checks and determine a candidate’s suitability.

“Certain things, like drink-driving, wouldn’t necessarily stop you from being able to be a teacher, I wouldn’t think. However it does depend on circumstances.

“I think another issue is that I could go and get my CRB check back today and then go and commit a crime tomorrow and that wouldn’t be reported back to the school. It is issues like that which need to be sorted.”

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