Police investigation: do I need to inform my school?


During your teaching career you could be involved in a police investigation. Offences could range from speeding, drinking and driving, sexual harassment to being arrested at a protest.

In all serious cases, you will want to notify your line manager or headteacher about what has happened. In this article, we outline which offences you should notify your school about, how you can notify your school and what you can expect your school to do.

Which offences do I need to tell my school about?

Edapt would strongly advise you to notify your school as soon as possible if you have been arrested or placed under investigation by the police. The only times when it might not be appropriate to tell your school would be:

  • If you have received 3 penalty points for speeding. For more serious speeding offences, and if you have been disqualified from driving as a result of speeding, we would recommend you notify school

Even if you have been given a police caution we would recommend informing your school. A caution is not a criminal conviction, but it could be used as evidence of bad character if you go to court for another crime.

Cautions are given for minor crimes, for example, the dropping of litter in the street. Even though it might seem like a minor offence it could be flagged on any future DBS checks. The GOV.UK website has produced additional information on police cautions.

Teachers are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and all teachers are subject to enhanced DBS checks. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables some criminal convictions to be ignored after a rehabilitation period. It should be noted that this does not apply to teachers.

Essentially this means that police cautions and penalty notices for disorder will mostly likely appear on enhanced DBS checks.

How can I notify my school I have been arrested?

It can be difficult and embarrassing to inform your school you have been in trouble with the police. You might find it useful to write out the facts about what has happened with any future court dates or the potential impact it could have on you carrying out your role effectively. You might find it easier to send a letter or email to you line manager or headteacher explaining what has happened.

Your school does not need to know every detail of the offence, however you should inform them of the essential facts. Edapt would recommend that whatever the conviction or caution is, you should declare it. If you do not, it could be a reason for summary dismissal if your school finds out about it further in the future.

Police investigation: what are the consequences if I am arrested?

If you are arrested, depending on what the offence is, you could be suspended or dismissed by your school. Potentially you might be suspended from your school while a police investigation is ongoing.

If after a police investigation you have been proved innocent and not charged with any offences your school should still employ you. It would count as discrimination for your school not to employ you if have proved to be innocent after an investigation.

The ACAS Code of Practice states on page 14 that:

If an employee is charged with, or convicted of a criminal offence this is not normally in itself reason for disciplinary action. Consideration needs to be given to what effect the charge or conviction has on the employee’s suitability to do the job and their relationship with their employer, work colleagues and customers”.

One example where this would be the case would be being convicted for drink driving. Most schools would still employ teachers who have been convicted of drink driving, depending on how severe the specific case is. It is important to remember that schools have reputations they will have to uphold and if teachers have breached the trust of the public their positions could be at risk.

Police investigation: further advice

If you need advice about notifying your school if you have been arrested by the police please get in contact with Edapt. If you want to know more about what might or might not be a conviction or caution, the DBS site on GOV.UK has more information.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.