As children I suspect most of us are taught to tell the truth. I can well remember getting a good hiding when a pathetic attempt to plant blame on someone else failed and I was reminded of the virtue of honesty. But as we grow older the issue begins to get a little blurred when the mixed messages start. When asked if we like auntie's new outfit, we're suddenly told that telling the truth about its awfulness is not acceptable.
As we get older, hopefully we begin to learn the concept of 'good' and 'bad' lies and the general nuances of life that make things so difficult for those people who suffer from a learning disability for instance. Most of us would agree that at some point in our life we will be faced with a 'cost benefit analysis' dilemma when we have to balance the chances of getting caught against some possible reward or advantage. In other words, a moral dilemma.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a Probation Officer is highlighted in this post by Tony on Prisoners Families Voices. He frankly admits to having reached the age of 39, never having had a job. He's been in and out of prison most of his adult life and bemoans how little help his Probation Officer had been following his release in 2011. I suspect he hoped that his PO could help him find a job, and that would be a realistic and normal expectation in my view. But the issue is always what to put on the bloody CV? Just how can you cover 20-odd years constructively and in the absense of any work record?
Tony quite quickly identified the inherent problem in following the no doubt sound advice from his PO to tell the truth and hope that a sympathetic employer will still call him for interview. I've given this advice myself many times with a heavy heart, both of us knowing deep down that, especially in a worsening economic climate, the chances of it bearing fruit are close to zero.
No wonder then that many clients like Tony decide to ignore advice from probation and instead concoct fairytale CV's. There're not alone in doing that though are they? The middle classes have always indulged in a bit of 'creative accounting' where employment histories are concerned, so is it really that terrible? Of course there is always the risk of being found out, but there is also an inherent and huge incentive on the part of the client to become a model hard-working employee and establish a work record. We call that rehabilitation of course.
There are potential problems, such as in relation to Schedule 1 offenders where there is a clear duty to inform employers if there is likely to be any contact with children or vulnerable adults. But this is a pretty unlikely scenario nowadays with the advent of CRB checks. I really hope it works out well for Tony in his minimum wage job and that he's able to progress to greater and better things. I'm just so sorry we weren't much help.