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Putting someone’s criminal record behind them

Jeanine Willoughby, Project Manager, Recruitment and Retention , Skills for Care

Skills for Care’s Jeanine Willoughby looks at what support is available for social care employers thinking about employing someone who has a criminal record.

One of the most sobering statistics in our recently published ‘The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, 2019’ report was that the number of vacancies our sector has on any given day had increased to 122,000.

If we’re serious about filling the existing and upcoming gaps in our workforce, our ever-growing sector’s 18,500 employers need to look at other ways to find new people. This involves using open recruitment and considering different underrepresented groups such as people with convictions.

Most people will be unaware that a staggering 11 million people in this country have a criminal record. This is a huge pool of potential recruits to immediately discount. In fact, Business in the Community found that three quarters of employers admitted they discriminated against people with convictions.

Dominic Headley runs a specialist consultancy practice supporting employers and providers to recruit safely and fairly. Skills for Care has worked closely with Dominic on the ‘Seeing potential’ project to develop practical guidance for social employers on open recruitment and the ‘Safe and fair recruitment guide’ that’s free to download from Skills for Care’s website.

‘Seeing potential’ supports adult social care employers to recruit and retain talent from all kinds of backgrounds. This includes people who may face barriers to employment such as care leavers, single parents, disabled people, people with mental health needs, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and people with convictions.

Many roles or opportunities in social care require the disclosure of criminal records which has traditionally presented a barrier as some employers are averse to considering people with convictions.

To support employers and providers to tap into this potential talent pool of over 11 million people with convictions, Dominic offers the following top tips:

Do the right criminal record checks

Not all roles throughout social care are eligible for enhanced DBS with barred list checks.

Apply for the correct level criminal record check for the specific role. Employers are less likely to lose a suitable candidate who may have the right values to work in social care.

Adopt a consistent approach to all applicants

Many people from disadvantaged backgrounds, including care leavers and people from BAME backgrounds, are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

Avoid including questions about convictions on application forms that may inadvertently put off some disadvantaged applicants with the right values.

DBS checks may list criminal convictions of UK nationals convicted overseas, but they will not detail criminal convictions of non-UK nationals convicted overseas.

Employers should review their vetting policies and procedures to ensure they’re applying a consistent and non-discriminatory approach to all applicants when assessing the risk and relevance of a criminal record for the role applied for.

Get support when making a decision

Some social care employers have struggled to understand the complex criminal record disclosure legislation that impacts upon the recruitment of people with convictions.

When employers are faced with complex recruitment, retention or safeguarding decisions, Skills for Care encourages employers to pause and seek expert advice from support organisations listed in the ‘Safe and fair recruitment guide’ and can be found on our website. This supports employers to make risk assessment decisions alongside expert guidance.

Skills for Care hopes that these top tips and the resources on our website will help more social care employers recruit people who have convictions safely and fairly.

Find out more www.skillsforcare.org.uk/seeingpotential

Edel Harris





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