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Just for the record

Help and advice for people with a criminal record

Having a criminal record can make it harder to find work. This leaflet gives you advice on getting and keeping a job, and explains some of the law relating to what you are expected to tell employers. This document is for general guidance only. If you are in any doubt about your own legal position, you should contact your probation service, citizens advice bureau or lawyer.

The law

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 applies to England, Scotland and Wales, and is aimed at helping people who have been convicted of a criminal offence and who have not offended again. Scotland has similar arrangements to England and Wales, although there are some differences in the law. According to the law, if you have not committed any further offences in a set period of time after your conviction (called the `rehabilitation period') and you were sentenced to two and a half years or less in prison, your conviction becomes `spent' (`forgotten') after a certain period of time. · If your conviction is spent, you do not have to tell employers about it on application forms or during interviews for most jobs. · If your conviction is not spent, you should tell an employer about your record.

You must tell the employer about your criminal record, including any spent convictions, if a job you are applying for is `excepted' (it should say so on the application form for the job). Certain jobs are excepted from the Act. These jobs usually involve work with children and vulnerable people, or certain professions relating to health, social care, the administration of justice, and public safety. Rehabilitation period The rehabilitation period varies according to your age and the sentence you were given. If you are not sure about your own rehabilitation period, your local probation service or citizens advice bureau (or local authority criminal justice social work department in Scotland) should be able to help you. To work out your rehabilitation period, you must know when you were first convicted and what sentence you received. If you received a prison sentence, you need to know how long you were sentenced for. Any new convictions after this date will alter your rehabilitation period. There are different arrangements if you have committed a motoring offence and the matter was not dealt with by a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

What about cautions? Cautions are not criminal convictions, but they do form part of a criminal record. They are not currently dealt with under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and therefore, there is no protection under that Act for you as an employee or someone looking for a job. If you are asked about any criminal convictions when applying for a job, you do not need to tell the employer about any cautions. However, if you are asked about a criminal record, you should tell any employer about any cautions until they are deleted from your record. Cautions are usually deleted from your record after five years. Your local police service may be able to help you find out what information is held about you locally or on the Police National Computer (PNC).

Getting and keeping a job

Whether or not your convictions are spent, telling a possible employer about your criminal record can be difficult ­ and might make it harder for you to find work. This section gives you advice on how and when it is best to let an employer know about your criminal record. Don't forget though that there are some circumstances where, by law, you have to tell employers about your record. In some cases, if you do not tell an employer about your convictions or cautions (or both) when they are allowed to ask for this information (for example, if the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act protection for `spent' convictions does not apply), you may be dismissed from your job immediately. Why should I tell an employer about a record if I don't have to? Telling employers about your criminal record might mean it takes you longer to find a job, but there are some benefits to telling an employer up front. · An employer will see that you are trying to make a new start and count this in your favour. · If you tell the employer yourself, they won't hear it first from someone else. · You won't have the worry of being found out and sacked.

Before an interview Many application forms include a standard question about criminal records. When an application form asks if you have a record, the best way to disclose the information is via a separate letter which can be attached to the application form. At the interview At the interview, you can talk about your record and answer questions. However, it can be difficult to find the right time to tell the employer. The best thing to do is to wait until you have given a good picture of yourself during the interview. At the end of most interviews, the employer will ask you if you have any questions or anything you want to add. This is the best time to bring the subject up. How to tell an employer about your past Whether an employer asks about your conviction or you decide to tell them, keep your explanation simple. Give a good reason why you should be considered for the job and not rejected because of your conviction. If your conviction was related to a personal problem (for example, drug or alcohol misuse) which has now been sorted out, or which happened at a time when things were difficult, it may help to explain this. If you have more than one conviction, try to put this in a way that will not put the employer off straight away. It is also a good idea to have the facts about your record written down.

After the interview If you don't tell a possible employer about your criminal record until they have offered you the job, there's a big risk that the employer will change their mind. You may decide to wait and say something after you have been in the job for some time. Even if you were not asked if you have a criminal record, there's still a chance you could be sacked if the employer finds out.

Will I have to have a criminal record check?

Criminal record checks are known as `disclosures'. There are currently two levels of disclosures in England and Wales, and three levels in Scotland. · Standard disclosure · Enhanced disclosure · Basic disclosure (currently Scotland only) Employers are allowed to ask you to have a disclosure as part of their normal recruitment process only if the position they have offered you is included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, (Exceptions) Order 1975. You must give the employer the information that they ask for.

An application for a standard or enhanced disclosure will ask for information about unspent criminal convictions. However, the disclosure itself will give details of both spent and unspent convictions. If a vacancy needs a disclosure, the employer will ask you to apply for it. These positions are listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, (Exceptions) Order 1975. In Scotland, certain occupations need a disclosure (either standard or enhanced). To find out if the position you are applying for needs a disclosure, see the following Acts. · The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exclusions and Exceptions) (Amendment) (Scotland) Order 2006 · The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 · SSI 2006/96 · Section 116 of the Police Act 1997 Basic disclosures are currently only available in Scotland, where they deal with all the basic disclosures for the United Kingdom. An employer advertising any vacancy can ask for a basic disclosure before offering anyone a job. The disclosure will only contain information on `current' criminal convictions, so will not show any spent convictions. The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is planning to introduce basic disclosures in England and Wales.

Disclosures are carried out by the Disclosure Service, combining the CRB in England and Wales, and Disclosure Scotland. The aim of the Disclosure Service is to improve public safety, and help employers and voluntary organisations to make safer decisions when offering people jobs. If you would like more advice or information on how to tell people about your criminal record, your probation officer or social work officer (if you are in Scotland) may be able to help you. Or contact a Connexions adviser or Careers Service (if you are in Scotland). The cost of disclosures If a vacancy needs a disclosure, the employer will ask you to apply for it. You will have to pay for the cost of the disclosure, unless you are on a New Deal programme and you can't pay for it. In this case, Jobcentre Plus will be able to help you. We will give you a voucher to pay for a disclosure. For more information about disclosures, or to make an application, call the CRB helpline (England) on 0870 90 90 811 or the Disclosure Scotland helpline on 0870 609 6006.

How do I find out more?

For more information on general issues raised in this leaflet, contact Jobcentre Plus. You will find details in the business pages of your local phone book, or from our website at Or, in some parts of the country, you can also get help from the following specialist organisations. Nacro 169 Clapham Road London SW9 0PU Phone: 020 7582 6500 Website: Freephone: 0800 0181 259 Nacro Cymru 35 Heathfield Swansea SA1 6EJ Phone: 01792 468 400 SACRO National Office 1 Broughton Market Edinburgh EH 6NU Phone: 0131 624 7270 Website: Apex Charitable Trust St Alphage House Wingate Annexe 2 Fore Street London EC27 5DA Phone: 020 7638 5931 Website:

Apex Scotland 9 Great Stuart Street Edinburgh EH3 7TP Phone: 0131 220 0130 Website: Home Office Direct Communications Unit 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF For general enquiries, please phone 0870 000 1585 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Textphone for people with hearing difficulties: 020 7035 4742 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday Fax: 020 7035 4745 E-mail: [email protected] Rehabilitation of Offenders information Website: sentencing/rehabilitation/index.html Disclosure Scotland PO Box 250 Glasgow G51 1YU Helpline: 0870 609 6006 Website: Citizens Advice Bureau If you are in any doubt about your legal position, your local citizens advice bureau should be able to help. This leaflet is available in Welsh and other languages. It is also available in other formats including in Braille, on audio tape and in large print.

Remember that this leaflet is a guide only. It is not meant to say exactly what your legal rights are. While we have tried to make sure that the information in this leaflet is correct at the date shown on the cover, it is possible that there may be incorrect information or some items may be oversimplified. Also, please remember that the information in this leaflet is likely to become less accurate over time, for example because of changes to the law.

Jobcentre Plus is committed to applying the principles of equal opportunities in its programmes and services.

Part of the Department for Work and Pensions

Leaflet ref. DCRA5JP ISBN: 1-84388-945-5 May 2006


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