Recruit With Conviction draft response to higher level disclosure consultation.

The text below sets out a draft response from Recruit With Conviction to the Scottish Government consultation which proposes changes to higher level disclosure.

We welcome any feedback from partners and stakeholders before we submit our response in November 2018. Email your feedback to

Do you have any views / observations on this Proposed Draft Order?

Recruit With Conviction works to smooth the path to safe, suitable and sustainable employment for people with convictions. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the consultation on the PROPOSED DRAFT POLICE ACT 1997 AND PROTECTION OF VULNERABLE GROUPS (SCOTLAND) ACT 2007 REMEDIAL ORDER 2018

Conviction disclosure inhibits fair opportunities to compete for employment.

Conviction disclosure anxiety is a normal human reaction. This anxiety links to avoidance of applying for jobs and ineffective disclosure. In practical terms, people tend to disclose ineffectively and unassertively unless they receive specific support to do so. Such disclosure support is not widely available

Your rights to withhold disclosure of protectable convictions and your responsibilities to disclose unprotectable convictions are defined from a complex set of algorithms. – Applicants and recruiters do not understand it.

The current employer guidance on asking for pre-disclosure information for PVG, enhanced or standard certificates, necessitates a similarly complex question. Ideally recruiters should only be permitted to request unspent convictions up front because spent convictions are rarely relevant and always require confidential handling. If recruiters only  asked for unspent convictions in advance, then it would simplify disclosure for applicants and recruiters. Any spent convictions which appeared later  in the process would be unlikely to have relevance and should be easy to deal with.

Furthermore, information about spent convictions is highly confidential and this information is ringfenced from most recruitment situations. There are handling rules for this information when it has been provided by Disclosure Scotland , however other recruitment processes are not audited for secure information exchange or storage. There are risks that applicants may feel obliged to provide such information by email or non-secure webforms.

Disclosure of convictions also affects recruiters. Offender stereotypes and inaccurate associated assumptions are commonly developed in the minds of recruiters, especially where those recruiters have not been trained to deal with disclosure of convictions and in situations where conviction disclosure is rare. Therefore, any change to remove the unnecessary disclosure of  convictions should be welcomed.

The process which uses the expertise of sheriffs to make such decisions on a case by case basis appears transparent and robust. 

In relation to the partial Equality Impact Assessment, please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative; you feel the amendments to legislation in this consultation document may have on any particular groups of people?

Men are about 3 times more likely to have a criminal conviction than women. Therefore, men are significantly more likely to have to disclose convictions than women. There are also significant correlations with of people with convictions to poverty and deprivation.

From a wider equalities perspective, we know that protected characteristics can create additional barriers to disclosure.  Most people carry some level of conscious or unconscious bias against individuals who appear to be “unlike themselves”.  Where recruiters have a “not like me observation” connected to a person disclosing a conviction, then different ethnicities, accents, cultural behaviours, learning disabilities etc, create a multiplying negative effect on the disclosure barriers. There is also evidence, that women with convictions are judged more harshly by recruiters than men after committing like for like offences.

Therefore, unnecessary requirements to disclose convictions have complex negative impacts on equalities and any movement to remove unnecessary requirements to disclose convictions would have a positive impact on equalities.  

In relation to the partial Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment, please tell us about any potential impacts you think there may be on children’s wellbeing. 

There is well established research which connects Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), high levels of cortisol, poor education outcomes, poor health outcomes and prison experience.

Distressed behaviours which are linked to unresolved PTSD are commonly a root cause of offending behaviour. When the PTSD is resolved and the social determinants of adversity in a person’s life are no longer present, then that person has no reason to commit crime any more than any other person.

It would be significantly beneficial for children who suffer from ACEs and PTSD to be more able to build safe relationships with adults who understand their distressed behaviours through personal lived experience.

From a wider perspective, public and voluntary organisations which fail to recruit staff and volunteers who are representative of their patients, pupils clients and customers are not  effectively resourced to make improvements to inequalities in health, education, justice and social care.

“The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study”. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. May 2014.