Would you consider recruiting an ex-offender?

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice, only 17% of ex-offenders manage to get a job within a year of their release from prison. Yet those that do manage to secure a job are up to 9% less likely to reoffend. 

As well as offering job-ready skills they have acquired while in prison, bringing in ex-offenders can significantly reduce the overheads associated with hiring other candidates. Retention of ex-offenders tends to be higher than other employees as they are grateful for the opportunity and become very loyal employees.

How long does a Criminal Record last?

Convictions and cautions remain within the Police National Computer until an ex-offender reaches 100 years of age; however, that doesn’t mean that they necessarily have to disclose these crimes to potential employers. 

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 means that some crimes become ‘spent’ after specific timeframes, which means they won’t appear on a basic DBS check.

However, if the role requires a standard or enhanced check, the candidate may need to disclose any spent convictions, unless it has been filtered out.

Depending on the nature of the crime the person has been convicted of, there are some roles that they may not be suitable to apply for. These include:

  • Roles where they will be working with vulnerable adults or children.
  • Positions within law enforcement, private security work, national security or the prison service.
  • The navy, air force or military.
  • Senior positions within finance and banking.
  • Certain positions within the healthcare, pharmaceutical or legal sector.

Advice for Employers

All organisations should have an ex-offenders policy to ensure that any job applicant with a criminal history is treated fairly and without discrimination. The policy should also outline how a company compiles criminal record information from potential employees and how this information will be used.

Unless an applicant has been barred from working with vulnerable adults or children, an ex-offender should not be excluded from working for certain organisations or even volunteering in specific job areas. It is, in fact, illegal to discriminate against an applicant based on their criminal record, if it is not relevant. 

However, an employer will always need to think carefully about whether a candidate is suitable for a role based on their history. Consider the following questions:

  • Is the offence relevant to the role?
  • How long has it been since the offence occurred?
  • What is the nature of the role?

Opportunities to get involved

The opportunity to get involved with prisoners or ex prisoners will vary, but may include:

  • Creating opportunities for serving prisoners
  • Creating opportunities for those on Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL)
  • Offering employment on release

Over 400 businesses and government departments are providing employment opportunities to serving prisoners.

Once these questions have been established, you can then proceed and make the recruitment decision.

We would also advise that you consider the following:

  • Do you have an ex-offenders policy?
  • Review your recruitment processes and policy if you have one and consider writing one if you don’t.
  • Your application form, does it automatically identify ex-offenders because you have a conviction tick box?

If you are considering employing ex-offenders, the NFN can help.

The NFN is a specialist part of the prison service that brokers partnerships between prisons and employers. They will help you to identify the best option for your organisation and put you in touch with similar businesses who are already working with the prison service.

Reasons to work with prisoners and ex-offenders

Working with prisoners and ex-offenders has a range of benefits, including:

  • Reducing initial recruitment and job advertising costs
  • Diversity, inclusion and social responsibility
  • Resolving skills shortages
  • Reducing staff absence
  • Increasing staff retention

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