1. Do we have to ask about criminal records?
  2. When can we ask applicants about their criminal record?
  3. We want to remove the question from our application form and ask later – what should we put on our application form?
  4. We do enhanced DBS checks, does this mean we have to ask at application?
  5. What questions can we ask?
  6. We’ve made an offer, how do we collect information from the candidate?


1. Do we have to ask about criminal records?


2. When can we ask applicants about their criminal record?


3. We want to remove the question from our application form and ask later – what should we put on our application form

Unlock is signed up to the Ban the Box campaign, and our application form includes the following:

Criminal record declaration

Please read the following statement – “I understand that, in the event of being offered the position, I will be required to complete a confidential disclosure detailing, at the point of completion, either:

  • All offences that are unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or,
  • All convictions and cautions, including those spent, unless filtered.

I understand that I will need to return this disclosure as soon as possible and be prepared to discuss if Unlock feel it is necessary. I understand, too, that a formal disclosure may be sought in the event of a successful application, to confirm the details that I provide. The level of disclosure will depend on whether the role is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which has been made clear in the details of the vacancy.”

Virgin Trains are signed up to the Ban the Box campaign. On their application form, they have a section explaining this (see a copy below) which helps applicants understand what they’ll be expected to disclose and when.

An application form extract, August 2016


4. We do enhanced DBS checks, does this mean we have to ask at application?
  • No – there’s no generic law that requires employers to ask applicants about criminal records at the application stage.
  • Companies that do enhanced DBS checks have signed up to the Ban the Box campaign – these include Choice Support, CRI and SOVA.
  • If the role is classed as regulated activity, you could still ask the applicant to confirm at application that they are not barred from working with the relevant vulnerable group. This can be checked as part of the DBS check later in the recruitment process. There is suggested wording in the guidance we have on wording of questions, under the additional question for type 2 roles.


5. What am I allowed to ask for in terms of criminal records?
  • It’s important that, if you’re asking about criminal records, you make sure you are clear about what information you want.
  • Generally, there’s two ‘types’ of roles – those ‘covered by the ROA’ and those ‘exempt from the ROA’. The question you can ask will depend on the specific role in question.
  • More information: Wording questions about criminal records [Detailed guidance]


6. We’ve made an offer, how do we collect information from the candidate?
  • Self-disclosure provides the foundation for assessing the applicant’s criminal record. If significant information is disclosed, it might be the first stage in an assessment process. If old or minor information is disclosed, an assessment may not be necessary.
  • Self-disclosure is best done in person as it provides an opportunity for you to ask questions and helps an applicant feel they have been treated fairly.
  • Avoid collecting written disclosures as far as possible – creating sensitive data means you must have a process for storing it.
  • More information: Asking for self-disclosure of criminal records information (Practical guidance)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email