Candidates with a criminal record


ban the box logoSpeaking to a person about their criminal record may appear daunting at first. That’s why it is essential that all recruiters are trained in dealing with this issue.


Options for asking questions about criminal records include after shortlisting, at an interview, after the first or second round of interviews or after a conditional offer is made.

Business in the Community’s Ban the Box and Unlock’s Fair Chance campaigns outline best practice principles but it will depend on the process you have in place with your client and the nature of the role. If you are able to avoid asking on an application form, people with convictions will be more likely to apply for the role and this means you will have a wider talent pool to choose from.

Bear in mind that candidates may be unclear about what information they are required to disclose, for example which convictions are spent or unspent. You can signpost candidates to Unlock’s disclosure calculator to help them ahead of any disclosure request.  

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Presenting an applicant with a criminal record to a client

It is important to remember that candidates have a choice as to whether they are put forward for a role and have the option to withdraw from the procedure if the role requires disclosure of criminal records information and they do not feel comfortable with this.  

If possible, candidates should be given the option of making the disclosure themselves. But ultimately, this will depend on how and when your client wishes to be informed. It is therefore important to make enquiries about your client’s own recruitment policy regarding candidates with convictions.  

Under the Conduct Regulations you are obliged to obtain sufficient information from your client to enable you to select a suitable candidate. You are also required to ensure that it would not be detrimental to your client and candidate for the candidate to carry out the role. If you have established that a client is prepared to be provided with criminal record information at an agreed later stage, you will be able to meet this requirement while also giving the candidate the best chance to succeed.  

If you are supplying temporary workers and need to place large numbers of candidates into roles at short notice, taking steps in advance to find out what your clients’ policies are is an essential step. 

If you are going to present the candidate, be sure to present the candidate’s skills, attributes and evidence of suitability for the role before you discuss any criminal records. 

When presenting criminal disclosure information it may be helpful to cover:


• Your positive assessment of the candidate’s suitability for the role

• The nature and seriousness of the offence

• Any background and mitigating circumstances to the offence

• How many times the person has offended

• The length of time since the offence occurred

• Any change in circumstances has there been since the offence that are likely to impact on the likelihood of further offence

• The applicant's current attitude to the offence

Nacro offer training and consultancy services which can help. You should ask candidates clear, open questions to gather the information you need to assess their convictions fairly.

Unlock, the charity for people with convictions, runs the Recruit! website that supports UK employers to recruit people with convictions and helps them to deal with criminal records fairly. It has information on how to word questions, when and how to ask, as well as how to carry out a criminal record assessment.  

Nacro’s dedicated Employer Advice Service provides free, confidential information, advice and guidance to employers, from commercial organisations to local authorities.  We also support agencies, and further and higher education institutions, offering expert advice, training and consultancy on all issues relating to the disclosure and management of criminal record information, safer recruitment and the retention of staff and students.

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 It should never have to be like this: A short film commissioned by Business in the Community for their #banthebox campaign

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