Employing a person with a criminal record
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act1974, persons who have lived on the right side of the law since their conviction benefit from the Act if they are not convicted again during a specified period. This period is called the rehabilitation period.
What is an unspent conviction?
If you have ever been convicted of an offence for which a sentence of more than 2 and a half years was imposed (regardless of the amount of time you actually spent in prison) this conviction can never become spent: it is an unspent conviction which you must disclose when asked about your criminal convictions such as when applying for a job.
What is a spent conviction?
If your sentence was given for 2 and a half years or less, there are specified times when a conviction becomes spent the rehabilitation period and they differ depending on the type of sentence passed.
Assessing the relevance of criminal records
The suitability for employment of a person with a criminal record will vary, depending on the nature of the job and the detail and circumstances of any convictions. Deciding on the relevance of convictions to specific posts is not an exact science. An assessment of an applicants skills, experience and conviction circumstances should be weighed against the risk assessment criteria for the job.
It should be remembered that employing people on the basis of information provided in an application form and a short interview, irrespective of whether they might have a criminal record or not, is never risk free. Staff responsible for recruitment need to identify what risks might be involved and what precautions put in place in order to provide satisfactory safeguards.
To facilitate this process, an applicants criminal record should be assessed in relation to the tasks he or she will be required to perform and the circumstances in which the work is to be carried out. It is recommended that organisations consider the following when deciding on the relevance of offences to particular posts:
Does the post involve one-to-one contact with children or other vulnerable groups as employees, customers and clients?
What level of supervision will the post holder receive?
Does the post involve any direct responsibility for finance or items of value?
Does the post involve direct contact with the public?
Will the nature of the job present any opportunities for the post holder to re0ffend in the place of work?
The answers to such questions should help organisations to determine the relevance of convictions to specific posts. For example, paedophile, or child pornography offences would almost certainly disqualify any person required to work with children; some violent offences would be relevant to positions involving unsupervised contact with the public; fraud should be considered in relation to posts involving the handling of significant amounts of money; and theft in unsupervised positions, such as, a warehouse.
CRB advised wording for application forms
As a guide you may wish to add the following words to you application forms:
As stated on the application form, because of the sensitive nature of the duties the post-holder will be expected to undertake, you are required to disclose details of any criminal record. Only relevant convictions and other information will be taken into account so Disclosure need not necessarily be a bar to obtaining this position.
Have you ever been convicted by the courts or cautioned, reprimanded or given a final warning by the police? (Note the post you have applied for is excepted under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which means that all convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings on your criminal record need be disclosed.
If yes, please give details of offences, penalties and dates.
Where the post is subject to an Enhanced Disclosure, the following question should also be asked:
Are you aware of any police enquiries undertaken following allegations made against you, which may have a bearing on your suitability for this post?
If yes, please give details.