Nacro launches groundbreaking employer-led project in Manchester


On the 16 March at Central Library in Manchester, leading social justice charity, Nacro, will deliver a large-scale employer event as the formal launch of its groundbreaking initiative, the Aeneid Project.
The talents and skills of more than 10 million people in the UK who have convictions are often overlooked due to many employers deciding not to consider applicants with a criminal record, regardless of whether offences are minor or irrelevant to the role being applied for.

The launch event ‘Recruiting safely and fairly: employing ex-offenders to capture talent’ will:

  • be attended by more than 100 senior business professionals from the private, public and voluntary sectors
  • feature an expert panel and speakers from Eversheds Sutherland, Freshfields, ACAS, Business in the Community (BITC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • include a legal briefing to raise awareness of the complex legislation which impacts upon the recruitment and retention of people with criminal records and show how employers, with Nacro’s support, can implement safer and fair recruitment policies and procedures whilst confidently managing and mitigating any potential risks

The event marks the formal launch of the Aeneid Project, a year-long initiative being delivered in Manchester commissioned by Cheshire and Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGMCRC). The project aims to fully utilise Nacro’s vast expertise and tradition of using innovative approaches to strengthen communities by:

  • providing employers, educational establishments and other organisations the required resources, expert support and training that they need to confidently access the local talent pool of ex-offenders, enabling them to move on from past mistakes and have a real stake in their community
  • delivering essential training to Cheshire and Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGMCRC) and DWP staff that will enable them to help their clients understand the legal rights and responsibilities they have when disclosing their criminal record
  • delivering a tailored employability programme in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that supports people with criminal records in finding and keeping jobs that match their skills, abilities and qualifications

Nacro Chief Executive, Jacob Tas, said:

“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. People with criminal records can offer a wealth of untapped talent and skills to employers many of whom experience skills gaps and struggle to fill their vacancies. Yet many employers are unclear about the complex legislation surrounding the recruitment of people with criminal records, with some applying blanket exclusion policies that put them at risk of legal challenge.

“We are very excited to launch the Aeneid Project in Manchester which will help employers in the city recruit and retain skilled staff at the same time as providing opportunities for people looking to turn their lives around and positively contribute to the local community.”  

Mark’s story

Mark worked extremely hard to overcome adversity to qualify successfully at the Bar and was delighted to be offered his ‘dream job’ as a trainee pupillage with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Mark was not asked about previous convictions when initially applying for the role but was asked about convictions after receiving a conditional job offer. Mark had the job offer withdrawn, without any opportunity to appeal, due to having received a driving conviction six years prior. Mark had already left his current employment in order to start the trainee position and was left unemployed, unable to provide for his family, and facing a numerous barriers to progression within his chosen field.

Charlotte’s story

Charlotte applied successfully through an agency for a role with a large property consultancy. However, the company, which did not ask her directly about her criminal record, withdrew the job offer after obtaining details of her criminal record through a dubious background check without her informed consent. She had turned down several other jobs to take up the job offer and was left unemployed as a result of this employer’s actions. Charlotte was notified of the job offer withdrawal through a phone call which she received at her leaving party. Charlotte was also denied the opportunity to appeal. Nacro’s Legal Advocacy Service is now supporting Charlotte to achieve legal recourse against the organisation due to their mis-handling of her application which left her unemployed.

Nacro would have been able to support Mark and Charlotte’s prospective employers to obtain information about Mark’s and Charlotte’s criminal records at the appropriate stage of the recruitment process, and carry out suitable risk assessments to enable them to make informed decisions about their suitability for the roles applied for. This would have avoided the time spent and high cost incurred by both employers due to failed recruitment.

Nacro’s Resettlement and Employer Advice Services

Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service works hard to support people like Mark and Charlotte who have made mistakes in their past to obtain fair and equal access to education, training and employment opportunities, enabling them to move forward with their lives and positively contribute to their community.

Nacro’s Employer Advice Service provides expert support for employers across all sectors, ranging from the NHS to airline companies. This free service supports employers to make informed decisions about the suitability of applicants or existing staff that have criminal records or have been subject to allegations, therefore avoiding costly mistakes and risks of legal challenge.