Criminal record tick boxes criticised for failing employers and job applicants

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News Criminal record tick boxes criticised for failing employers and job applicants Virgin has already removed them from their applications and instead offers to discuss a recruit’s past convictions in a ‘supportive environment’ Share The campaign is looking for employers to provide more ‘supportive’ ways of discussing applicants’ past convictions. (Image: Shared Content Unit) Get daily
Declarations by criminal record holders on job applications often fail to accurately predict the risk of potential recruits, a new study has revealed.
The research, published by The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice, also found that asking people to declare convictions upfront could be putting previous offenders off applying – as well as offering employers a false sense of security.
The findings have been backed by Business in the Community and Virgin Trains who are calling on employers to ‘ban the box’ with their campaign.
They want criminal record declarations dropped from job application forms , and to instead consider applicants’ skills, experience and ability before asking about convictions.
So far over 115 employers have ‘banned the box’, including the Civil Service, Barclays and Boots – which was the first company to join the initiative back in 2013. Read More Police reveal North Wales’ fastest-growing crimes as shake-up starts to take them on
Like these employers, Virgin has already removed the criminal record tick-box from their applications and instead offers to discuss a recruit’s past convictions in a “supportive environment.”
The paper, by Associate Director of SCCJ, Dr Beth Weaver, also found that in some cases people who had never been convicted of a crime might pose a greater risk than those with offenses on their record. Virgin, founded by Sir Richard Branson, have been hiring ex-offenders and actively recruiting through in-prison job fares for several years. (Image: David Davies/PA Wire)
On average, the time between someone committing a crime and being at no more risk of re-offending than someone who had not committed a crime was between seven and 10 years, Dr Weaver revealed.
Factors such as age, gender and the type of crime committed however lead to variation in this time frame.
The study also found that whilst some offending background would make potential employees unsuitable for certain roles, there’s evidence that many candidates are either put off or dismissed by employers due their criminal record declaration – despite little evidence to suggest they would present a significant risk of re-offending. Read More Crime rate among kids in North Wales higher than Liverpool, new figures reveal
And according to Dr Weaver, around one in six people in the UK have a criminal record, “so this issue affects a large number of people.”
The senior lecturer at Strathclyde University added that: “Giving people a chance to work can improve outcomes for people and contribute to a safer and more just society.
“Asking people to disclose their convictions at the job application stage legitimises employer discrimination, as most employers don’t know how to make sense of the information provided and undermines the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.” Read More HMP Berwyn being used as ‘dumping ground’ for UK’s most dangerous criminals
Business in the Community, the organisation behind the Ban the Box campaign in the UK, highlighted that asking people to declare convictions upfront is likely to put off talented candidates and could drive people back to crime.
Jessica Rose, the charity’s Campaign Manager, said: “The research shows that including an upfront declaration on application forms can be a crude tool for assessing a candidate’s risk to a business.
“We understand that employers need to manage risk in recruitment but asking everyone who applies for a role about criminal convictions at the start of the process tells people who are trying to move on with their lives that they won’t be given a fair chance.” The campaign hopes it give ex-offenders a fairer chance at recruitment. (Image: Shared Content Unit)
Virgin Trains has been pro-actively recruiting people with convictions for five years and has banned the criminal record declaration form on job application forms.
Kathryn Wildman, Virgin’s Talent Acquisition Manager, said that learning about people’s criminal history was an important part of the recruitment process – but that the company has found a way to ask about applicant’s past other than on job forms. Read More The dreaded Friday rush hour train from London to Holyhead is now A LOT cheaper
She said: “Rather than ask people to tick a box on application, we’ll have a conversation at interview stage in which we talk about their offences and where they are on the rehabilitation journey.
“That may still result in a no from us, but it gives that person the opportunity to discuss their past and what they’ve got to offer in a supportive environment rather than just being dismissed out of hand.
“And our experience is that we’ve identified some fantastic people with convictions who have gone on to perform really well for us and helped our business grow.” Like us on Facebook

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