‘Fifteen years ago I was in a relationship with a man who had a history of mental health issues and drug abuse. If I’d known then what I know now I might have been more aware of what was going wrong but back then there were no laws about coercive control or anything like that. He became increasingly abusive towards me and one night he assaulted me.
‘Six policemen turned up in a van but he went out into the street and spoke to them first. When they came in I was lying in bed with bruises and broken ribs. They surrounded the bed and arrested me and took me down to the police station. I spent eight hours in a cell with no water and they conducted the interview without a solicitor present.
‘My ex-partner had made everything up and said it was me who assaulted him. Because there were no witnesses, it was his testimony against mine. There was also no evidence about what had happened, even though all the injuries were on me. I didn’t understand what was happening so I signed a caution which they told me was just a slap on the wrist.
‘I didn’t realise at the time the negative impact this was going to have on my life. I’ve had job offers withdrawn because of having a caution on my record. I studied Law ten years ago and I’ve put off pursuing a career in Law because of it. Earlier this year I decided I want to do a Masters so I knew I had to get it sorted out. I got a report sent to the Met challenging my record but they were not willing to review the situation and just shut everything down. I approached a solicitor who told me it would cost between £4K and £6K to sort it out.
‘Eventually I got referred to South West London Law Centres and was given an appointment with a solicitor in the legal advice clinics. I explained what had happened and within five minutes he told me how to apply to have my record removed, saying the facts should stand for themselves. He also said it was something I could do myself without needing to pay for a solicitor. I was totally unaware of this, so when I heard it, it wasn’t just legal advice, it was life-changing advice. It means I can now pursue being a barrister and I can finally let go of what I’ve been carrying round with me for 15 years.‘
Sophie* was given an appointment in our free legal advice clinic. The volunteer solicitor explained about the AROC Records Deletion and how she could apply to have her caution removed. She has now completed the application and is awaiting the outcome.
*not her real name
You can find out if our Legal Advice Clinics can help you resolve your issue here.