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Career Development

Ex-Offenders Deserve Jobs Too

It was a Monday morning and as I got into the office a reminder popped up on my phone that I had an event to attend this morning. It was not unexpected as I had been looking forward to this since I received an invite to attend the Recruiting safely and fairly: Employing ex-offenders to capture talent seminar from a contact of mine in the Job Centre Plus team. It was to be held in the Employer suite in the Manchester Town Hall Extension, which I was particularly excited about visiting since the refurbishment works.

As my colleague and I arrived we didn’t exactly get off to the best of starts as we walked into the wrong part of the town hall and found out that the event was in fact being held in another building, but that did not deter us. As we walked through the door (the right one this time) we were greeted by a very smartly presented receptionist, who indicated where we needed to go and we were then chaperoned through the Employer suite. This room was full of computers and busy people typing away at them trying to secure employment, it was safe to say that there was an air of optimism in the room.

We eventually arrived at the meeting room where the event was to take place and started mingling with the other attendees learning where they were from and why they were attending. Now this event was being hosted by a charity called Nacro. This charity is committed to supporting the most vulnerable individuals in a community and helping them change their lives and reach their full potential. One aspect of their organisation is geared at helping ex-offenders get into work and this is something that were keen to learn a lot more about, especially after starting to host our own ‘Get into Work’ Seminars (for more information on these click here).

As we settled down for the presentation (a hot brew firmly in hand to warm me up due to the freezing cold Mancunian winter weather) we were introduced to Dominic Headley a Legal Officer who works for Nacro and was the presenter at the event. As the presentation started and we went through the slides my colleague and I were astounded by some of the stats that were revealed:

  • 10 million people in the UK have a criminal record
  • Over 20% of the UK working age population have a criminal record
  • 1 in 3 male adults aged between 18 and 52 has a criminal record
  • 50% of criminal convictions are for motoring offences
  • 70% of convictions each year result in a fine
  • <8% of convictions each year result in a prison sentence


After we picked our jaws off the floor from hearing these statistics we continued to learn all about The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, what sort of DBS checks to use in certain situations and then went through a number of case studies. The case studies in particular were fascinating to learn just how ineffective or misleading DBS checks can sometimes be. One case study saw 2 Candidates applying for the same job as a bank cashier; one Candidate had been convicted of fraud and spent 6 months in prison, whilst the other had a driving fine. Which one would you employ if you were the Bank Manager and you HAD TO employ one or the other?

The one with the driving fine right? That is what I thought too until it was revealed that the DBS check would not show the fraud conviction as it was deemed as spent after a period of 2 years, and the man in question was applying for this job 3 years after the conviction. Whereas the Candidate with the driving fine was more recent and due to the type of fine this would show up on their record for the next 5 years. This blew my mind…

We went on to look at numerous other examples and it became apparent that the most important thing when looking at DBS checks on ex-offenders is CONTEXT. One example went into detail about a fictional ex-offender’s chequered past and all the offences he had been convicted of (some of which were quite severe),  but we were then shown a cover letter written by the individual which went into detail on each conviction and explained more about the circumstances. I went from being determined that I would not employ this type of person, to feeling sorry for them and wanting to offer them a job. It was quite a bizarre experience but I am glad to have the insight that I now have thanks to this event.

It was highlighted that the UK is currently suffering from a skills gap in a number of industries and we have been ignoring a Talent pool of people who have skills and experience because of a miss-guided understanding. I learnt a great deal at the event and if you would be interested in attending one then you are in luck as they are hosting more across Greater Manchester.

I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar and would suggest it to other forward thinking businesses that are interested in understanding more about DBS checks and getting ex-offenders into work. If you can’t attend one of the events then don’t worry as Nacro have released a guide called Recruiting Safely and Fairly: A practical guide to employing ex-offenders. If you’d like to take a look at this then you can download your free copy here: Recruiting Safely and Fairly: A practical guide to employing ex-offenders.

Written by Mark Cherry, Operations Manager.  


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