Chris Proctor has recently joined Nacro as one of the Resettlement Advice Service’s legal officers. Legal officers offer legal advocacy support to individuals and training and advice to employers and organisations on matters relating to criminal records.
Upon joining Nacro I was surprised about the complexity of the law around criminal records. Despite my background in criminal law, I initially struggled to understand the law around criminal records; in particular with regard to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, the different levels of criminal record check that can be carried out and the fact that an organisation called Disclosure Scotland can provide information about unspent convictions to individuals and organisations that are based in England and Wales!
Having a criminal record should not be an insurmountable barrier. Education, employment and housing should be available to everyone who meets the qualifying criteria. Having a criminal record should not automatically be a disqualifying factor as a matter of course. If that was the case, a nation where approximately 1.5 million people are convicted of a criminal offence each year would very quickly grind to a halt through a lack of educated people and skilled workers.
Businesses are naturally averse to risk, and this can be a positive trait if applied correctly. However, it must be remembered that not all exposure to risk is harmful. The key is identifying potentially harmful risks and having appropriate safeguards in place. Being able to identify an actual risk rather than a perceived risk is a skill that needs to be honed. Like with most things, taking a stab in the dark and hoping for the best is a recipe for disaster.
Bad workmen always blame their tools. Just having an effective safe recruitment policy is not in itself a sufficient safeguard against risk. A responsible organisation has to ensure that employees are trained in the proper and effective implementation of their recruitment policy and the relevant training polices and procedures need to be in place for staff to be safe and effective in their role.
Working for Nacro has placed me in the unique position of being able to take a balanced approach when dealing with criminal record issues. Advising, training and advocating for individuals, employers and organisations means I can influence parties to be proactive rather than reactive, in order to avoid future conflict.
Places on Nacro’s upcoming series of training sessions are now available. For more information or to make a booking, please click here.