Recruit With Conviction Highlights – 2013

The Recruit With Conviction team had a fantastic year in 2013 and we want to share a few of the highlights with you. Here are our top 10.

Thanks to all of our amazing advisers, partners and businesses for making all this possible:

1. Recruit With Conviction engaged hundreds of employers to promote safe, fair and effective recruitment of people with criminal records.

2. Right Honourable Kenny McAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice in
Scotland launched Recruit With Conviction employer discussion events on
changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

3. We supported the development of Ban the Box in London in partnership with Business in the Community, UNLOCK, Howard League, Criminal Justice Alliance and Barrow Cadbury Trust.

4. We delivered a full programme of Apply With Conviction workshops in the North West of England to Job Centre Plus advisers, substance abuse specialists and work programme advisers to help improve services for people with convictions.

5. We reinvested over 2000 consultant hours pro-bono for the development of our wider social aims.

6. We facilitated successful employer events in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Irvine and Inverness.

7. We visited Potenza in Italy for the start of a new transnational European
programme with Italian and Romanian partners. This will focus on education towards employment.

8. We developed strategic partnerships with No-Offence CIC, Apex, Scottish Business in the Community and Scottish Family Business Association. We have also developed many other relationships with other great organisations.

9. We secured positive media coverage for our campaign including BBC TV news and national newspapers

10.  We made a crucial contribution to diversity, improved recruitment practice and the reduction of re-offending.

Rehabilitation Reports – What employers want

Employers often say that their main obstacle to Recruiting With Conviction is unknown risk. Employers don’t feel comfortable assessing risk that ex-offenders pose and why should they?

One clear response from a justice professional on this subject, came from Damian Evans, the Governor at HMP Highpoint in Suffolk at a conference organised by Business in the Community in February 2012.

He said that prison staff are the experts in risk assessment and that employers should contact the prison for advice. (or words to that effect)

Recruit With Conviction guide employers to engage with Justice Professionals if they have risk concerns after a disclosure. Employer anxieties are typically disproportionate to the real risk.

Rehabilitation reports would have to be very simple, so the report would contain one of a number of single simple statements written in wording that employers can understand. For example “This person has addressed the root causes of their offending”.

Each rehabilitation report would include a date validity statement to guide employers.

Is it practical? Hold your breath and wait for derision from justice colleagues – but it is what employers want and it may form part of a solution which includes Ban the Box and an application process to remove convictions from the record early when an individual can evidence their progress.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Scotland – The first debate

On 1st October 2013, the Scottish Parliament debated modernising and reforming the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. It was the first opportunity in almost 40 years for a meaningful political discussion in Scotland on legislation which could make meaningful changes to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people by giving them an opportunity to compete for jobs.

Recruit With Conviction congratulates the whole parliament for a very
constructive debate on an important issue. There is a tremendous opportunity now to pull together a solution which could make a significant impact on reducing re-offending and welfare to work, as well as improving general recruitment practice to get the right people into the right jobs, regardless of unrelated criminal records.

The televised debate (linked below) provides a useful context.

The Scottish Parliamentary debate on the 1974 Act

Is it time to Ban the Box?

The Directors of Recruit With Conviction are inspired by many people with convictions who have a great aptitude and attitude for work. They have battled shame and stigma because of their history which is commonly mixed with deprivation and desperation. So often, their desires are simple; to “be normal” or to lay more constructive social footprints by working, paying tax and contributing to wider society.

Each person is unique with different family situations, motivations and emotions; however a criminal record is the most stigmatising stereotype. Their talent and abilities make them the right person for so many advertised jobs – yet employers often struggle to deal with disclosure of criminal convictions in a professional manner. Continued unemployment or underemployment is an unjust consequence lasting years beyond the sentence of the court and for many people it’s an immovable object on their path from prison. However, continuing criminal careers is an avenue which is always available. Starting work and stopping crime is not an easy option.

Promoting safe and effective recruitment of people with convictions is the primary goal of Recruit With Conviction and our model of dealing with disclosure supports employers to match the right person for the right job regardless of unrelated criminal convictions. Human Resource specialists tell us that when recruiters are trained to understand their bias towards the criminal record stereotype, then they also become much more aware of their wider bias on the grounds of gender, race or disability and become better recruiters all round.

Good recruitment processes present an opportunity to compete for jobs by removing some barriers before interview. The criminal record tick box on a job application form has absolutely no value without context.

Employers should implement the following:

  1. Consider conviction relevance separately from the applicant’s qualities for the job.
  2. Delay asking for disclosure of convictions until the interview invitation or firewall the disclosure information until then.
  3. Ask for disclosure in a format which helps them understand the relevance and context of the crime and the potential changes the candidates have made.

If more people with convictions are invited to interview, then more of them will be able to put convictions into context and present any positive changes that they have made to their lives.

The process does allow employers to deselect the candidate before interview if the criminal record is very relevant, so that interviews are not meaningless or tokenistic. However the interview is an opportunity for recruiters to look beyond the label and see a human being with talent, energy and also frailties.

Recruit With Conviction diversity training is available for all recruiters and Apply With Conviction training is available for all employability workers.

Open letter on Referendum votes for Prisoners

The directors of Recruit With Conviction support the Howard League Scotland and a number of leading figures from Scottish civic society in calling the Scottish Government to review of the blanket ban on convicted prisoners voting in the independence referendum.prisoner vote

Our request is pragmatic rather than political – restriction of voting rights does not deter criminal activity.

Voting is a responsibility as well as a privilege and therefore voting is an opportunity to engage in citizenship and reflection of the greater good – qualities which employers want.

Giving back responsibility is key to starting work and stopping crime.

The full text of the letter is on the link below and the signatories are:

Dr Oliver Aldridge MBBCh,DRCOG, MRCGPGPwSI
Addiction Medicine Specialist
Tam Baillie
Scotland’s Commissionerfor Children and Young People
Mark Bevan
ProgrammeDirector, Amnesty Scotland
Shami Chakrabarti
Director, Liberty
Andrew Coyle CMG
Emeritus Professor of Prison Studies,University of London, and former
prison governor
Mike Dailly
Principal Solicitor,Govan Law Centre

Andrew Deans
Member ofthe Scottish Youth Parliament, AngusNorth and Mearns
Mike Ewart
Chief Executive, Scottish Prison Service 2007‐2009
Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton
Convener, Church and Society Council, The Church of Scotland
Tom Halpin
Chief Executive, Sacro
Alison Hannah
Executive Director, Penal ReformInternational
Martin Johnstone
Chief Executive, Faith in Community Scotland
Tony Kelly
Kaliani Lyle
Scotland Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission
Juliet Lyon CBE
Director, Prison ReformTrust
Margaret Malloch
Senior Research Fellow, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research
Robin McAlpine
Director,Jimmy Reid Foundation
Isabel McCue
Chief Executive, TheatreNemo
Gill McIvor
Professor of Criminology,University of Stirling

Andrew McLellan
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland 2002‐2009
Fergus McNeill
Professor of Criminology and Social Work,University ofGlasgow
Jim Murdoch
Professor of Public Law,University ofGlasgow
Mike Nellis
Emeritus Professor of Criminal and Community Justice,University of
John ScottQC
Chair,Howard League for Penal Reform, Scotland
David Shrigley
Artist and adviser to Insight and Outlook,the Koestler Exhibition for
Scotland 2012
Morag Sievwright
Development Co-ordinator, Faith in Throughcare
Richard Sparks
Professor of Criminology,University of Edinburgh
Alec Spencer
Former prison governor and Director of Rehabilitation and Care, Scottish
Prison Service, and Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice,
University of Stirling
Alan Staff
Chief Executive, Apex Scotland
Ruth Stark
Manager, Scottish Association of Social Work
Cyrus Tata
Professor of Law and Criminal Justice,University of Strathclyde

Richard Thomson
Director, Recruit With Conviction
Jackie Tombs
Professorin Criminology and SocialJustice,Glasgow Caledonian
Robin Waterston
Clerk,Quakersin Scotland
Pete White
Co-ordinator, Positive Prison? Positive Futures

Open letter to Kenny MacAskill MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

Full criminal record disclosure for the purposes of employment is inconsistent with Article Eight of the Human Rights Act, according to news reports emerging on 25 January 2013.

While this ruling was made specifically about English processes in an English court, it was within the context of the European Convention of Human Rights, and it was declared on an auspicious day for Human Rights activists in Scotland, inspired for hundreds of years by the work of Robert Burns.

While indicators of risk of child abuse are important to prevent the type of abuse which was of greater prevalence during the 20th century, there is a plethora of other useless but deeply personal information available and it is used to unfairly discriminate against people in this century. In fact, there has never been a time in history when criminal record information has been so freely available.

This is information about acts of anger, pride or jealousy which were punished and recorded inconsistently – a source of regret and personal embarrassment for many. For example, a lady charged with racist breach of the peace for comments made to her own father during a heated family argument and a man who was charged with procession of drugs which he had taken from his teenage son.

A third of unemployed people have criminal convictions (excluding common driving offences) and a significant number of graduates, apprentices and working young people acquire a Friday night conviction, which changes their prospects and causes anxiety.

Even with more serious convictions or persistent offending behaviour, there is clear evidence that after 4 years of being crime free, the likelihood of the person re-offending is about the same as the general population. Many individuals are ready to contribute long before this.

Primarily, the hearts and minds of recruiters need to change but there is an opportunity for legislature to remove more convictions from the record and to require employers to assess the relevance of any declared convictions at interview and not during paper sifts. Attitude and aptitude for work is in no way diminished by a criminal record.

Recruit With Conviction is the campaign to support employers in the safe and effective recruitment of people with a criminal record.

Richard Thomson, Director, Recruit With Conviction Ltd



Work Programme for Prisoners

The Work Programme is the controversial master plan of the UK Government’s Welfare to Work reforms.

In truth, there is good and bad outcomes in any reform. While some are salivating at the programme’s potential to remove benefits from people, care and employability providers warn of a trail of destruction left in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people.

Employers have voiced concerns about mandation of people to work for their benefits but also welcome a 2 year follow up of support when recruiting vulnerable people from the work programme.

In terms of the Recruit With Conviction agenda,  the results to July 2012 show zero job outcomes for prison leavers, however this is a statistical caveat rather than an alarming result. Job outcomes for prison leavers should be available in the next round of statistics.

The alarning fact from the statistics is that in Scotland only 520 prisoners were attached to the work programme in the first reporting period of 4 months. During this time period RWC estimate  6,500 people have been liberated from Scottish Prisons. This means that less than 1 in 10 liberated prisoners are being attached to the Work Programme at a time when we are being told that the Work Programme will provide for this group of employment deprived individuals and Local Autority provision is slashed.

This is a lost opportunity for employers and for the reducing reoffending agenda. From employers perspective, they are missing out on the opportunity to rercruit people who often have a great attitude and aptitude for work because there are no resources to support 9 out of 10 liberated prisoners. In terms of reducing re-offending, employment is the single most important opportunity to cut crime.


Work Programme Attachments by contract area

Scottish Prison Stats 2011/12 (liberations)

What is Recruit With Conviction?

What is Recruit With Conviction?

Recruit With Conviction is the national campaign to promote safe and effective recruitment of people with criminal records.

Our purpose

  • Business benefits from access to the untapped potential and talent which exists among people with convictions.
  • Community benefits from reduced crime.
  • Individuals benefit from the hope and opportunities that a job brings.

Recruit With Conviction consultants provide vast experience of business, criminal justice and employability support to provide a professional service within a tried and tested model which has been operating since 1998.

The experience of our consultants is transnational and includes work with FTSE 100 companies and public authorities.

The Recruit With Conviction model is more than an element Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy, it also provides you with a competitive advantage by fully embracing diversity and giving you access to a pool of talent which is overlooked by others.

Recruit With Conviction Ltd is a not for profit company registered in Scotland. Please use the feedback form below to get in touch.

Business leaders in hospitality call for prisoners to train as chefs

Roast restaurant founder urges prisons to train offenders to work in hospitality

Iqbal Wahhab, founder and owner of London restaurant Roast, has joined Gordon Ramsay in urging prisons to do more to arm offenders with skills and qualifications to work in the hospitality industry at the end of their sentences.

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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