Local authorities

Local authorities face a difficult future and need a resilient and adaptable workforce. People with criminal records have a diverse range of skills and experiences that employers can no longer afford to ignore.

Over 11 million people in the UK have a criminal record. People with criminal records are often discouraged from applying for jobs that ask about them on the application form, fearing they won’t get a fair chance to show their skills and abilities before being rejected for a past they can’t change.

Building a truly diverse workforce means thinking differently about people with criminal records and finding ways to offer them a fair chance. That way, employers give themselves the best chance of finding the right person for the job.

Ban the box

Removing the tick box about criminal convictions from application forms is the first step to offering candidates a fair chance. Ban the Box is a campaign that calls on employers to remove the tick box and ask any necessary questions about criminal records later in the process. There are now more than 140 employers signed up across the private, public and charity sectors.

Employers who ask about criminal records on application often exclude people who tick the box, so people with convictions are put off applying for jobs where they’re asked to disclose on application. Offering a fair chance doesn’t just mean giving people with criminal records a chance, it means not missing out on talented and experienced candidates because of a criminal record.

What’s wrong with the box?

  • People are put off applying, so you’ll miss out on potential applicants
  • There’s no opportunity to contextualise or to explain convictions disclosed
  • It’s used a screening tool which can lead to indirect discrimination
  • No employer legally has to ask about criminal records on application – and asking at this stage may be unlawful

Unlock’s toolkit is designed to help local authorities understand the benefits of fair chance recruitment, offering practical advice and examples of public sector employers who have already done so.

Download the toolkit

Fair chance recruitment

Recruiting the best person for the job means offering candidates with criminal records a fair chance. That means recruitment practice that:

  • Considers applicants on their skills and abilities first, asking questions about criminal records only when necessary (for example, after offer)
  • Considers a criminal record in context, taking into account the circumstances, relevance, the time that has passed and what a candidate has done since
  • Complies with data protection law

More information

Learn more about developing your approach to criminal records 

Make sure your policy on collecting criminal records complies with the GDPR and data protection law

Read more about fair chance recruitment

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