Nacro fully supports the Court of Appeal ruling which concluded that the current DBS filtering regime is ‘disproportionate’ and ‘insufficiently safeguarded to be lawful’. A number of cases heard as part of the appeal, including that of an individual convicted of ABH more than 30 years ago at the age of 16, highlighted the need for wholesale reform of the disclosure regime.
Around 10 million people in the UK have a criminal record. Many are for minor offences, in some cases the result of mistakes made long ago. With many employers reporting that they experience skills gaps and struggle to fill their vacancies, people with convictions can offer a wealth of untapped talent and skills. Yet the numerous barriers that people with convictions face as they try to get a job often leaves them marginalised and at an increased risk of poverty, homelessness, family and relationship breakdowns and reoffending.
We need a criminal records regime that consistently strikes the correct balance between helping people move on from past mistakes or difficult circumstances, and protecting the public and employers from individuals that may present a risk of harm. Disclosure must have a clearly defined purpose so that it can be used only when it is necessary and proportionate. Further research is also required in order to explore and understand the link between minor convictions and cautions and protecting the public.
Nacro staff have vast experience in supporting people with convictions into employment and helping employers make informed decisions about recruitment, and we are committed to continuing our work with employers, government and other key stakeholders to drive forward much needed improvements.