Monthly Archives: December 2011

Third of Unemployed People have criminal records

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There has never been a better time to recruit with conviction

There are a number of articles in the press today about the Ministry of Justice statistical bulletin which states that a third of benefit claimants have a criminal conviction in the last 10 years.

I don’t think that this statistic will surprise anyone working in the justice system but I do remember being chastised for taking a guess at this statistic a few years ago. At the time I suggested this very headline!

While it does create some very negative stereotyping of people on benefits, these statistics are a set of tools for policy-makers to address the difficulties that ex-offenders face in gaining honest employment.

Honest employment is the single most important factor in determining whether or not people re-offend. So while I am uncomfortable about the abuse of this statistic in stigmatising benefit claimants, I do welcome it.

The elephant is now well and truly in the room and there is now no excuse for not dealing with it.

Specific and specialist employability support must be available to deal with the barriers that a criminal record presents. But this support needs to be available for both employers and prospective employees. This approach was pioneered by Apex Scotland in 1998 in a project called Apex Scotland Employer Recruitment Training when over 1000 recruitment professionals in all sectors were trained to deal with criminal record disclosure.

There will also be calls for a re-assessment of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which is long overdue. I’d suggest that part of the problem is the very title of the legislation because many employers falsely interpret “rehabilitation periods” as a minimum amount of time it takes before they can safely employ an individual rather than the point at which discrimination against the individual become illegal. Lets be honest and call it the Ex-Offender Equality Act 2012.

Beyond the problem with the title of the legislation, the periods of time before a conviction becomes spent are lengthy and often demoralising for job seekers who have otherwise turned their lives around.

Here’s some other stats from the report:

1 in 6 prison leavers were in p45 employment 2 years after being liberated.

1 in 3 people convicted of drugs offences were in p45 employment 1 month before their conviction.

4 in 10 people convicted of fraud or forgery were in p45 employment 1 month before their conviction.

While many people will be baulking at these statistics and the freedom they give to create negative headlines, I’m happy that we now have sound evidence to challenge policy makers and employers to do the right things for ex-offenders, and to support this untapped potential to realise their true potential and contribute to society in ways that they frequently really want to.

Employers can also benefit from new hard working and loyal additions to their workforce as well as contributing to wider social benefits if they overcome negative stereotypes in recruitment.

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Employers have strong convictions to take on offenders

Great headline from “The Recruiter” they must be following a certain blog.

It’s also a great article and demonstrates Recruiting with Conviction to reach Untapped Potential. It really does work.

Quoting Denis Phillips from the Timpson Foundation.

…….. “All we are doing as a company is tapping into a recruitment source – we really struggle to get people.

There is the CSR [corporate and social responsibility] which we all have but at the end of the day we want the best person for the job and often we come across good people.”……….

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Sue Ryder opens doors to business community – Business News – Peterborough Evening Telegraph

Sue Ryder knows that to #RecruitWithConviction reaches #Untapped Potential

The work of Business In The Community in their Right Step Project is commendable. Corporate Social Responsibility is part of good business management.

I’m sure that Sue Ryder’s initial intentions were to contribute to a reduction in crime by employing people with criminal records and they truly deserve their award.

But they also got an unexpected bonus:

….34 offenders serving custodial sentences and 137 on probation or community sentences have volunteered in 30 of Sue Ryder’s shops. They have provided 825 volunteer hours a week, saving the charity nearly £260,000 – enough to cover the cost of five beds in one of its neurological care centres for a year…..

It’s also great that they are encouraging employers to take up training.

I was lucky enough to be involved in delivering ASERT Apex Scotland Employer Recruitment Training. Recruiters really benefit from understanding how to risk assess criminal record disclosure and it gives them confidence to make the right decision on whether or not to recruit the person with the criminal record.

Hopefully we will see more funding become available to deliver this sort of training.

Sue Ryder opens doors to business community – Business News – Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

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Division of Labor: Out of Prison, Out of Work | DCentric

#RecruitWithConviction is an enlightened philosophy which works all over the world.

There is an elite untapped resource of people with criminal records who have skills employers need but can’t find work because they are discriminated against.

Of course there are social benefits to society too but I’ll always argue that to recruit with conviction allows you to reach untapped potential and the comment presented below is typical of enlightened employers.

Division of Labor: Out of Prison, Out of Work | DCentric

……Curtin has had positive experiences with his staff; about half are former inmates. “They have a greater understanding of the value of a job,” he said……

via Division of Labor: Out of Prison, Out of Work | DCentric.

Chapelfield Shopping Centre in Norwich

Employing former prisoners might be counter-intuitive but it does make sense


Davina Tanner is the General Manager of Chapelfield and devised the Custody and Community Project.

“For the Chapelfield Custody and Community Project to have been recognised as one of the top two work inclusion initiatives in the UK really is incredible,” says Davina. “It shows that innovative and impactful work inclusion projects can be delivered by any organisation of any size and recognises the hard work and commitment that everyone connected with the project, including our partner Norwich Prison, has put in.  We have achieved very exciting results so far and the project is developing all the time.  Importantly, we are engaging with lots of other local businesses that are now employing prisoners.  It’s this engagement that will ensure the project is sustainable.”

Trevor Pereira, commercial director of Capital Shopping Centres said:  “Taking a sustained approach to corporate responsibility, and integrating it into our business strategy, is pivotal to the way that every centre within Capital Shopping Centres operates.  We know that we can’t build a successful business without constantly showing our commitment to being a better business.”….

“Our shopping centres are at the heart of their communities, and we are always looking for opportunities to provide positive benefits back into these communities. The Chapelfield team have really embraced this project, resulting in business benefits to the centre, real opportunities for prisoners and reduced crime for the community,” adds Trevor.

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