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Policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders

Policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders.

Policy Statement:

The University of Chichester (the University) is committed to the fair treatment of its staff, potential staff or users of its services, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibilities for dependants, age, physical/mental disability or offending background.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) merges the functions previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). As an organisation using the DBS to assess applicants’ suitability for positions of trust, the University of Chichester complies fully with the Code of Practice/Act and undertakes to treat all applicants for positions fairly. It undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a Disclosure on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed. A policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders, is available to all applicants at the outset of the recruitment process on the recruitment page of the University’s website.

The University actively promotes equality of opportunity for all with the right mix of talent, skills and potential and welcome applications from a wide range of candidates, including those with criminal records. All candidates for interview are selected on the demonstration of skills, qualifications and experience.

As many staff at the University are required to hold Disclosure certification (which may be standard or enhanced), application forms and job profiles will contain a statement that a Disclosure will be requested in the event of an individual being offered a position. We encourage all applicants called for interview to provide details of their criminal record at the initial stage of the recruitment process on the University’s application form. Wherever an applicant declares a previous conviction it will fall within the remit of this policy and procedure.

Process:

1. Individuals who are applying for posts that are exempted under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and (Exceptions) Order 1975 will be notified through the interview process that the post requires the disclosure of all criminal record information, including details and dates of “spent” convictions, reprimands and final warnings.

Applicants will be required to complete their application form indicating any criminal convictions.

Applicants for professional services staff vacancies must declare information about any criminal convictions for which they are not regarded as rehabilitated under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, there are a number of posts which are exempted and these applicants must declare information about any previous criminal conviction. 

Any applicants who declare that they have a warning / caution or been convicted of a criminal offence are required to inform the Director of Human Resources. The information must be sent under separate, confidential cover and will only be seen by those who need to see it as part of the recruitment process. Details of convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act must be submitted to the Director of Human Resources in a sealed envelope, or by email to e.whitaker@chi.ac.uk, at least 3 working days prior to the interview.

Criminal records are taken into account for recruitment purposes only when the conviction is relevant to the work to be undertaken by the person if appointed to the post. 

Having an “unspent” conviction will not necessarily bar an applicant from employment; this will depend on the circumstances and background to the offence with regard to the post applied for. 

At interview, or in a separate discussion, we ensure that an open and measured discussion takes place on the subject of any offences or other matter that might be relevant to the position. Failure to reveal information that is directly relevant to the position sought could lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment.

In exceptional circumstances, if the nature of the offence(s) is considered by the Director of Human Resources and the chief executive’s team to be (a) highly relevant to the post and (b) serious enough to bar the person from employment within that post, the Director of Human Resources will write to the applicant to inform them of this.  Example of this would be: (a) someone on the Sex Offenders' Register applying for a non-exempted post.

2. If the Director of Human Resources considers the information relevant to the post applied for, but does not consider that it should bar the application, it will be passed to the Human Resources Officer sitting on the interview panel, or Chair of the Panel if a Human Resources representative is not to attend the interview. 

3. The information will be kept totally confidential by all parties until after the interview.

4. The interview panel will interview the individual and appointment decisions will be based on an assessment of the applicant’s relevant skills, experience, qualifications and abilities in the normal way.  The application will be judged on merit assessed against the requirements identified in the person specification, regardless of the information received.

5. Where the panel wishes to offer the post to that person, the Chair and Human Resources Officer will decide what further action, if any, should be taken in the light of the information received. 

6. Where the Human Resources Officer and Chair believe the convictions are relevant, the Chair will discuss the matter with the interview panel in complete confidentiality.  The panel will then decide what further action needs to be taken, if any. 

7. A risk assessment will be conducted relevant to that post by the recruiting manager.  Such an assessment will consider:

  • The seriousness of the offence and its relevance to the safety of other employees, students or other relevant persons, and/or property
  • The length of time since the offence occurred
  • Any relevant information offered by the applicant about the circumstances which led to the offence being committed
  • Whether the offence was one-off or part of a history of offending
  • Whether the nature of the job could present opportunities for the post holder to re-offend
  • Whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed since the offence was committed, making re-offending less likely
  • The country in which the offence was committed
  • Whether the offence has since been decriminalised by Parliament

8. Further exploration may be necessary.  This may take the form of a meeting with the candidate to discuss the relevant convictions.  It may also include, with the explicit consent of the individual, references regarding the offence to be taken up; for example, from a probation officer or specialist employment organisation.

9. Should information provided by the DBS, specialist organisation or person contradict that provided by the individual, this will be taken into consideration by the Director of Human Resources and the Chair of the interview panel. 

10. Following receipt of all relevant information, the Chair of the interview panel and the Director of Human Resources will make a recommendation regarding the appointment to the Vice-Chancellor.  The Vice-Chancellor will make the final decision concerning the appointment.

11. Should an individual wish to dispute that decision, they will have a right to make an appeal in writing to the Vice-Chancellor.

What would constitute “relevant”?

In considering the relevance of criminal convictions the University will take account of the nature of the post, for example:

  • Whether the post involves one-to-one contact with children or other vulnerable groups such as students (e.g. acting as Academic Advisor or teaching staff )
  • What activities the post holder undertakes and in what context?

On Appointment:

Candidates who are required to obtain an appropriate disclosure certificate from the DBS and the University will action this on the appointed candidate’s behalf. The level of certificate required will be specified in the interview documentation. The University undertakes to discuss any matter revealed in a Disclosure with the person seeking the position before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment.

Where details of a conviction come to light during employment (and have not been revealed by an individual at the time of appointment) a full appraisal will take place by the Head of Department and Human Resources Officer. The employee will be asked to explain why the information was not proffered at the time of appointment. The University will consider whether the conviction is relevant, whether there is a significant risk, and whether this may be reduced through safeguards or redeployment.  Where there are issues of significant risk that cannot be reduced dismissal will be considered.

If it is found that an employee deliberately withheld information which was required under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 or (Exceptions) Order 1975, and/or misled the employer to gain employment, this is likely to lead to dismissal.

Data Security:

1. No information regarding disclosed criminal convictions or Disclosure will be released to any individual or organisation, unless they are authorised to receive it under Section 124 of the Police Act Part V 1977.

2. University Countersignatories authorised by the DBS will ensure that Disclosures and the information they contain will only be released to those managers and staff who need access in the course of their duties (e.g. Chair of Appointments’ Panels or other University Countersignatories).

3. All Disclosure information will be stored in secure, locked filing cabinets. Disclosures will be held for a period of six months after the date of the recruitment decision, or after the resolution of a dispute regarding the recruitment decision or disclosure information.  In exceptional circumstances information may need to be retained for longer, but this will not be done without consulting the DBS. After this time a named individual appointed by a Countersignatory will shred the Disclosure information. No photocopy or other image of the Disclosure will be retained.

4. A record of the date of disclosure, the name of the subject, the type of disclosure, the position in question, the unique number issued by the DBS and the recruitment decision taken will be retained in accordance with DBS advice. 

Code of Practice and Complaints Procedure:

The University undertakes to comply with the DBS Code of Practice.  A copy of the Code is available from the Human Resources Department or from the DBS website www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service. Should you believe this Code has not been complied with, you should complain to the DBS directly at:

Disclosure and Barring Service
Customer Services
PO Box 110
Liverpool
L69 3EF

Telephone: 0870 90 90 811