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Policy & Procedures - Other Policies & Procedures

Policy on the Recruitment and Employment of Ex-Offenders

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the University complies fully with the provisions of the ROA and best practice in its recruitment of staff with a criminal record.  It aims to ensure that it treats all applicants for jobs who have a criminal record fairly and does not discriminate unfairly against candidates with either a spent or an unspent conviction. At the same time the policy aims to safeguard the University, its staff, students, visitors and service users.  The policy sets out the basis on which it will seek information from prospective employees about past spent and unspent convictions, how this information will be used and the way in which it will seek and deal with information relating to offences for posts exempted under the ROA.

Contents

1.    Background

2.    Introduction

3.    Exempted jobs with a requirement for Disclosure

4.    Non-exempted jobs

5.    Existing staff with a criminal record

6.    Rechecking

7.    Training of staff

8.    Retention and Disposal of Disclosure Information

Appendix 1:   Rehabilitation Periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Appendix 2:   Indicative List of Posts Requiring CRB Disclosure

Appendix 3:   Disclosure Information from the Criminal Records Bureau

Appendix 4:   Policy Statement on the Handling, Use, Storage, Retention And Disposal Of Disclosures And Disclosure Information


 

1.    Background

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974 (ROA) was introduced to ensure that ex-offenders who have not re-offended for a specified period of time since their date of conviction are not discriminated against when applying for jobs.   Unless the job they are applying for is exempted, ex-offenders are no longer required to disclose to organisations convictions that are spent.  In other words it is unlawful for an organisation to discriminate against an ex-offender on the basis of a spent conviction unless they are applying for an exempted job. The length of time required for a conviction to become spent depends on the sentence received and the age when convicted (see appendix 1).

There are, however, a number of jobs that are exempt from the Act in order to protect vulnerable groups within society. Such posts include those involving unsupervised access to children, young people, the elderly, disabled people, alcohol and drug users and the chronically sick.  In the University, there are a relatively small number of identified posts that fall into this category and these posts will be subject to additional checks into the history of applicants to assess their suitability.

2.    Introduction

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the University complies fully with the provisions of the ROA and best practice in its recruitment of staff with a criminal record.  It aims to ensure that it treats all applicants for jobs who have a criminal record fairly and does not discriminate unfairly against candidates with either a spent or an unspent conviction. At the same time the policy aims to safeguard the University, its staff, students, visitors and service users.  The policy sets out the basis on which it will seek information from prospective employees about past spent and unspent convictions, how this information will be used and the way in which it will seek and deal with information relating to offences for posts exempted under the ROA.

The University has some jobs that require it to check the background of proposed appointments to positions of trust within the University and which are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (see 1 above).  Aston University is required to use the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosure Service in order to check the history of applicants and to assist them in assessing candidates’ suitability for such posts. The basis on which such information will be sought and handled is set out in section 3.

The basis on which information regarding unspent convictions will be sought and handled for non-exempted jobs (i.e. most University posts) is set out in section 4. 

3.    Exempted jobs with a requirement for Disclosure

To determine whether a post has a requirement for Disclosure, a risk assessment should be carried out by the recruiting manager in consultation with the relevant HR Advisor.

Appendix 2 of this policy lists the range of posts that are currently considered as requiring Disclosure. This list is not exhaustive and may be subject to change in line with legislative and/or Aston University’s specific requirements.   This list is in accordance with the CRB categories and relates to posts:

  • working with children (i.e persons aged under 18)
  • working with vulnerable adults (i.e persons aged 18 or over who have conditions of the following types: i) a learning or physical disability; ii) a physical or mental illness, chronic or otherwise, including an addiction to alcohol or drugs; or iii) a reduction in physical or mental capacity.  The University also determines individuals who may be in distress as vulnerable.
  • working within certain professions

For jobs exempted from the provisions of the ROA, it should be made clear in the further particulars for the vacancy that the post is subject to Disclosure.  Candidates will be encouraged to submit appropriate information confidentially to the HR Advisor either through the web-based recruitment system or in hard copy in a sealed envelope.   The main purpose of the interview is to assess the candidate’s suitability against the person specification for the post.  However, where a post is exempted from the ROA, the interview also provides an opportunity to discuss any offences.  Candidates still deemed appointable after interview, should be informed that they will be subject to a criminal record check from the Criminal Records Bureau whereby information regarding cautions, reprimands, final warnings and convictions will be sought.

Where a candidate is made an offer of employment which is subject to a criminal record check, then a Disclosure application will be made to the Criminal Records Bureau under one of the levels of Disclosure (appendix 3). For most University jobs deemed to be exempt, the level of Disclosure will be Enhanced.  If this yields information that appears to make the candidate unsuitable for appointment, then the applicant will be informed of the reasons in writing. If there is a lack of clarity in the information received or it appears to contradict that previously submitted by the candidate, then s/he will be invited to discuss this with the Chair of the interview Panel and the relevant HR Advisor before a final decision regarding the appointment is made. Only convictions that are relevant to the person’s suitability to perform the job in question will be considered.

4.    Non-exempted jobs

For non-exempted jobs all candidates will be encouraged to submit appropriate information confidentially to the HR Advisor either through the web-based recruitment system or in hard copy in a sealed envelope on the basis that it will only be considered and discussed if it is relevant to the job.

Applicants are not required to disclose convictions that are ‘spent’ under the Act. (Cautions, reprimands and final warnings are regarded as spent as soon as they are issued).

The suitability of a person with a criminal record will vary depending on the nature of the job and the circumstances of the conviction.  An assessment of the applicant’s skills,experience and the nature of the convictions should be weighed against the potential risks associated with the job.

Examples of issues that the University will consider in assessing the relevance of offences to particular jobs include:

  • does the post involve one-to-one contact with children, staff, students or visitors?

  • what levels of supervision will the post holder receive?

  • does the post involve any direct responsibility for finance or cash handling?

  • does the post involve contact with the public?

  • will the nature of the job present any opportunities for re-offending?

The answers to these sorts of questions will help the University determine the relevance of particular offences to particular posts. The University will then assess the risk of employing the Ex-Offender.  In carrying out this risk assessment the University will take into account the following issues:

  • whether the conviction or other matter revealed is relevant to the position in question;
  • the nature and seriousness of any offence(s) or other matters revealed;
  • the length of time since the offence(s) or other matters occurred;
  • the number and pattern of offences;
  • the age of the offender when the offence(s) occurred;
  • what (if anything) has changed since the offending behaviour or other relevant matters took place;
  • the circumstances surrounding the offence and the explanation(s) offered
  • the responsibilities of the position
  • the vulnerability of the customer group
  • whether the offence has since been decriminalised;

When a decision is made not to appoint an individual after unspent criminal offences have been considered, the University will, on request, inform the individual why they were considered to be pertinent.

Following this process, if an individual is appointed and it subsequently emerges that they had an unspent conviction that was not disclosed, then this will be treated as a serious disciplinary matter and handled and investigated under the relevant University staff disciplinary procedure.

5.    Existing staff with a criminal record

While CRB Disclosures are primarily used in the recruitment and selection process, it is also possible that an individual’s role may change and to one which requires a CRB Disclosure.  A CRB Disclosure may also be required where an academic undertakes a new research project which involves them working with children and/or vulnerable adults. 

If the University has to obtain Disclosure information in relation to existing staff who were not required to disclose conviction information at the time of their appointment and this process reveals a criminal history, then the University will assess whether or not this prevents them continuing in their present job or moving to another job. In carrying out this process the University will examine the factors set out in 4. above. In circumstances where, after an appropriate assessment is carried out, it is deemed that they cannot continue in their present job, then the University will examine re-deployment possibilities in accordance with the agreed policy on redeployment of staff at that time.

6.    Rechecking

Disclosures relate only to offences committed at the time of application.  However, in line with its’ responsibility to protect the interests of persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults, the University takes the view that where the nature of posts remain unchanged, the University should require postholders to make subsequent disclosure applications.  These will normally be required at intervals of 3 years.  Notwithstanding this requirement, the University reserves the right to require postholders to make further disclosure applications at any time.

7.    Training of staff

The University will ensure that staff involved in leading the recruitment and selection of staff are aware of this policy and its provisions.

8.    Retention and Disposal of Disclosure Information

Please refer to Appendix 4 of this document - Policy Statement: Secure Storage, Handling, Use, Retention & Disposal of Disclosures & Disclosure Information.

 


 

Appendix 1 – Rehabilitation Periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

 

 

Rehabilitation Periods

 

Sentences with fixed rehabilitation periods

 

Under 18 when convicted

 

18 or over when convicted

Prison and Young Offender Institution - sentence of 6 months or less

3 years

7 years

Prison and Young Offender Institution - sentence of more than 6 months - 2½ years

5 years

10 years

Fines, compensation order, probation (for people convicted on or after 3 February 1995), community service, combination order, action plan, curfew order, drug treatment, reparation order

2 years

5 years

Borstal (abolished 1983)

7 years

7 years

Detention centres (abolished 1988)

3 years

3 years

Absolute discharge

6 months

6 months

 

Sentences for which the rehabilitation period varies

Probation order (for people convicted prior

to 3 February 1995), conditional discharge,

bind over, supervision order, care order

until the order expires (minimum period of 1 year)

Attendance centre orders

length of the order plus 1 year

Hospital order

2 years after the order expires (with a minimum of 5 years from the date of conviction)

 

Suspended sentences

A suspended prison sentence is treated as one that has taken effect and the rehabilitation period is the same as for the full sentence.

 

 


 

Appendix 2: Indicative List of Posts Requiring CRB Disclosure

 

Occupation

Disclosure Level

Risk Assessment

Date Assessed

Nursery Staff,

Sports Coaches

Enhanced

Duties include unsupervised contact with persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults

March 2005

Vice Chancellor

Pro Vice-Chancellors

Heads of School

Secretary-Registrar

Directors of Finance, Estates, LIS, ICT and RCU

Enhanced

Duties could involve unsupervised access to persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults in sensitive situations

March 2005

Summer School Staff

Enhanced

Duties involve regular contact with persons aged under 18

March 2005

Psychologists in Dyslexia Clinic

Enhanced

Normal clinic duties may involve unsupervised contact with persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults

March 2005

AALS Staff

Enhanced

AALS is a registered hospital which meets HCC standards.

 

Duties of all staff could involve unsupervised access to persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults

March 2005

Staff with access to the AALS building:

Cochlear Implant Team

Some Life & Health Sciences Staff

Enhanced

Staff working in AALS building could have unsupervised access to persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults

March 2005

Residence Office Staff

Residence Tutors

Enhanced

Duties could involve unsupervised access to persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults in the student residences

March 2005

Nursery Staff

Enhanced

Duties include unsupervised contact with persons aged under 18

March 2005

Counselling Staff

Careers Staff

Student Services Staff

Student Recruitment Staff

Enhanced

Duties could involve unsupervised access to persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults in sensitive situations

March 2005

Security Staff

 

Enhanced

Duties could involve unsupervised access to persons aged under 18 and vulnerable adults

March 2005

Lead Signatory and Countersignatories

Enhanced

Required by CRB

March 2005

 



Appendix 3 – Disclosure Information from the Criminal Records Bureau

 

There are different levels of Disclosure as they relate to Aston University:

·         Standard Disclosure:

This applies to posts exempted under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 which involve working with children or vulnerable adults and for positions of trust. The standard disclosure contains details of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer. If the disclosure request relates to a post working with children, it will reveal if the individual is barred from working with children as per the Department for Education & Skills list.  If the disclosure request relates to a post working with vulnerable adults, it will reveal if the individual is barred from working with vulnerable adults as per the Department for Health list.

·         Enhanced Disclosure:

This applies to posts involving greater contact with children or vulnerable adults, including regular care, training, supervision or being in sole charge of children (under 18s) or vulnerable adults. In addition to the information in the Standard Disclosure, an Enhanced Disclosure contains non-conviction information from local police records if a chief police officer thinks it relevant to the position that the individual has applied for.

As a matter of good practice, Aston University will consult with the CRB where there is any doubt or uncertainty as to the most appropriate level of check.

 


 

Appendix 4: Policy Statement on the Handling, Use, Storage, Retention And Disposal Of Disclosures And Disclosure Information

 

As an organisation using the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosure service to help assess the suitability of applicants for positions of trust, Aston University complies fully with the CRB Code of Practice regarding the correct handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of Disclosures and Disclosure information.  It also complies fully with its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 and other relevant legislation pertaining to the safe handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of Disclosure information and has a written policy on these matters, which is available to those who wish to see it on request.

Storage and Access

Disclosure information should be kept securely, in lockable, non-portable, storage containers with access strictly controlled and limited to those who are entitled to see it as part of their duties.

Handling

In accordance with section 124 of the Police Act 1997, Disclosure information is only passed to those who are authorised to receive it in the course of their duties.  A record of all those to whom Disclosures or Disclosure information has been revealed should be kept and it is a criminal offence to pass this information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it.

Usage

Disclosure information may only be used for the specific purpose for which it was requested and for which the applicant’s full consent has been given.

Retention

Once a recruitment (or other relevant) decision has been made, Disclosure information should not be kept for any longer than is necessary.  This is generally for a period of up to six months, to allow for the consideration and resolution of any disputes or complaints.  If, in very exceptional circumstances, it is considered necessary to keep Disclosure information for longer than six months, the CRB should be consulted and full consideration should be given to the data protection and human rights of the individual before doing so.  Throughout this time, the usual conditions regarding the safe storage and strictly controlled access will prevail.

Disposal

Once the retention period has elapsed, any Disclosure information should be destroyed by secure means, i.e. by shredding, pulping or burning.  While awaiting destruction, Disclosure information should not be kept in any insecure receptacle (e.g. waste bin or confidential waste sack).  Photocopies and/or other images of the Disclosure or any copy or representation of the contents of a Disclosure should not be kept.  However, notwithstanding the above, a record of the date of issue of a Disclosure, the name of the subject, the type of Disclosure requested, the position for which the Disclosure was requested, the unique reference number of the Disclosure and the details of the recruitment decision taken will be retained.