Jacob Tas, Chief Executive of social justice charity, Nacro, said:
“Nacro welcomes the Law Commission report on the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) filtering system, and fully supports recommendations for a wider review of the whole criminal records 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. Ex-offenders can offer a wealth of untapped talent and skills to employers many of whom experience skills gaps and struggle to fill their vacancies. Yet the numerous barriers ex-offenders 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 re-offending.
“We need a criminal records regime that consistently strikes the correct balance between helping people to move on from past mistakes or difficult circumstances, enabling them to make valuable contributions to society, and protecting the public and employers from individuals that may present a risk of harm.
“The current regime is not transparent, too complex and difficult to navigate for the individuals and employers who use it, which presents far reaching consequences for employers, individuals and wider society, which include:
- Individuals having no clear guidance about what they are required to disclose to potential employers. This leaves them at risk of providing too much or too little information which can lead to the loss of job opportunities and a struggle to provide for themselves and their families.
- Employers losing out on the right skills for their workforce and struggling to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities to protect staff, service users and wider stakeholders from the risk of harm due to not getting the right information from a DBS check. In addition, with DBS checks currently being requested at times unnecessarily, for a huge range of jobs from tradesmen, to nurses, teachers and taxi drivers, DBS check delays are resulting in potential employees and employers waiting for several months before vacancies can be filled.
“It is clear that the existing criminal records regime needs to change. Nacro has vast experience of supporting ex-offenders into employment and helping employers make informed decisions when recruiting people with convictions, and we are committed to continuing our work with employers, government and other key stakeholders to drive forward much needed improvements.”