Published

By Chris Proctor

in Nacro comments

This blog illustrates why it is important for employers to consider disclosure statements when interpreting criminal record information.

For many years criminal record information has, legitimately or otherwise, been shared with employers and organisations.

Criminal record information can be obtained legally from Disclosure Scotland, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or from the individual to whom the criminal record information relates.

DBS certificates and basic disclosures rarely tell the whole story. Information shared this way is very factual. It details:

  • the offence category/categories
  • when the offence(s) happened
  • the disposal administered/how it was dealt with by the court/police

Remember

  • Offence categories can be confusing as they often cover a broad range of behaviours which vary in terms of seriousness. They are rarely self explanatory and often make offences sound more serious than the circumstances.
  • Police recording practices vary – a person could be charged with a lesser offence to secure a conviction.
  • What all of this fails to say is why. What led this person to offend? And are they likely to do it again?

This is why disclosure is important when it comes to safe and fair recruitment and admissions!

Disclosure statements provide organisations with the opportunity to gather information which can be used to inform their risk assessment and it also provides individuals with the opportunity to ‘fill in any gaps’ by providing the organisation with relevant background information.

Imagine you are recruiting for a role in your organisation that is eligible for a DBS check. You have been actively seeking someone for this role for a considerable amount of time and have narrowed it down to two preferred candidates, Paul and Tracy. They both meet the requirements of the role and you are now conducting the pre-employment checks, which includes a criminal record check. You have received their DBS certificates, which contain the following information:

Name:

Mr Paul Andrew Jones

Date of Conviction:

01 February 2010

Court:

City of London Magistrates

Offence:

Burglary with intent to commit criminal damage on 01 January 2010
Theft Act 1968 S.9

Disposal:

Referral order 3 months
Fine £100
Costs £43

_____________________________________________________

Name:

Tracey Joanne Smith

Date of Conviction:

06 June 2012

Court:

Birmingham Magistrates

Offence:

Abduction of child by other persons
Child Abduction Act 1984 S.2

Disposal:

Fine £200
Costs £43

What immediately springs to mind on seeing this information? Does this information raise any concerns? Would you immediately discount them from the role?

You invite both candidates to provide you with a disclosure statement and they inform you of the following:

Paul was homeless and, during one particularly cold winter, was searching for somewhere to sleep. He came across an old, derelict, disused warehouse and thought he would seek shelter for the night. A local business owner saw him entering the building and called the police.

Tracy’s daughter-in-law was threatening to leave the country to begin a new life for her and her young daughter in New Zealand. Tracy took her grandchild for 24 hours in an attempt to force her son and her daughter-in-law to reconcile their differences.

Would your opinion change on receipt of this information? How would you use this information to inform your risk assessment? What further questions would you ask?

It’s difficult for employers and organisations to know exactly what information they should seek from an applicant with a criminal record and the best way to interpret and manage the information received.

Nacro delivers interactive workshops for employers and organisations to increase their confidence to manage and interpret criminal record information. Find out more about our training here.

If you are involved in managing and interpreting criminal record information, whether it be for recruitment, admissions or any other risk assessment purpose, read our next blog Safe recruitment and risk assessment: useful tips and hints or follow us on Twitter @Nacro_.