Disclosure certificates will not lead to discrimination, says CRB

The
head of operations at the Criminal Records Bureau has rebutted claims that the
service will lead to increased discrimination by employers against
ex-offenders.

Research
carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that employers will use
the CRB as a method of screening applicants to avoid recruiting former
offenders.

However,
Keith Broadbent, operations director at the CRB, believes that in practice the
service will give employers more confidence when recruiting people with
criminal records.

Employers
are not currently permitted to check applicants’ criminal records unless the
job involves working with children or vulnerable adults or has security implications.

But
under provisions in the Police Act (1997), which come into effect next summer,
all employers will be able to ask applicants to provide basic disclosure
certificates which detail all unspent convictions through the CRB.

Broadbent
said, “I don’t see basic disclosure used as a sifting tool in the same way that
people don’t generally use references as a sifting system. It will be used as
verification to ensure the chosen applicant has been truthful

in
their application.”

Broadbent
believes employers will only request basic disclosure when there is a question
mark hanging over an applicant.

He
said, “It offers a chance to address recruitment practices when employing
ex-offenders.

“With
this you will know the details of any criminal record someone has whereas
currently, unless you go through the subject access process, you have no idea
that the information being given about someone’s criminal background is
correct.”

From
March next year employers such as NHS trusts and charities – which need to
check the criminal records of prospective employees when recruiting staff
responsible for children or vulnerable adults – will use the CRB.

Broadbent stressed that these employers will need to
register with the CRB before the end of this month to guarantee access to the
CRB’s disclosure service, or they will face delays in receiving the
information.

By Ben Willmott

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