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Recruitment of Ex-Offenders Policy

1. Introduction

The aim of this policy is to set out Edge Hill University’s approach to the recruitment of staff and volunteers with criminal convictions.

We actively promote 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. We select all candidates for interview based on their skills, qualifications, and experience.

Therefore, we will consider job applicants with criminal records on their individual merits. However, our approach depends on whether the job is included in or exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all staff and volunteers, including prospective staff/volunteers applying for roles, and is made available to applicants at the outset of the recruitment process. 

3. Compliance

The University complies with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and the Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) Code of Practice and undertakes to treat all applicants for positions fairly.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 states that ex-offenders are not required to disclose to a prospective employer the convictions defined as ‘spent’ under the Act except in the case of applicants for posts working with children, adults who may be vulnerable or in position of trust, where all convictions must be declared..

We only ask individuals to provide details of convictions and cautions that the University are legally entitled to know about. Where a DBS certificate at either standard or enhanced level can legally be requested (where the position is one that is included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 as amended, and where appropriate Police Act Regulations as amended) we only ask an individual about convictions and cautions that are not protected.

The University will not discriminate unfairly against applicants with a criminal record on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed. A criminal record will not necessarily bar an applicant from working for Edge Hill; the nature of a disclosed conviction and its relevance to the post in question will continuously be assessed and considered.

The University is committed to the fair treatment of its employees, potential employees or users of its services, regardless of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, responsibilities for dependents, age, physical/mental disability or offending background.

We ensure that all those in the University who are involved in the recruitment process have been suitably trained to identify and assess the relevance and circumstances of offences. We also ensure that they have received appropriate guidance and training in the relevant legislation relating to the employment of ex- offenders, e.g. the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

4. Using the Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions each year by processing and issuing DBS checks for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.  DBS also maintain the adults’ and children’s Barred List and makes considered decisions as to whether an individual should be included on one or both of these lists and barred from engaging in regulated activity.

An application for a criminal record check is only submitted to DBS during recruitment after a thorough risk assessment has indicated that one is both proportionate and relevant to the position concerned. For those positions where a DBS check is required, application forms, Job adverts and recruitment briefs contain a statement that an application for a DBS check will be submitted in the event of the individual being offered the position.

We make every subject of a criminal record check submitted to DBS aware of the Code of Practice and make a copy available on request.

We undertake to discuss any matter revealed on a DBS certificate with the person seeking the position before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment.      

5. Assessing Risk

An applicant’s criminal record will be assessed in relation to the tasks they will be required to perform and the circumstances in which the work is to be conducted. A panel will assess the applicant’s suitability in a supportive manner.

We will seek to understand the circumstances leading to the conviction, establish what has been learned from the experience, and understand what measures have been taken to prevent re-offending.

Depending on the nature of the offence, some or all the following points might be considered:

  • Does the post involve one-to-one contact with children or vulnerable groups such as employees, customers, or clients?
  • What level of supervision will the post holder receive?
  • Does the post involve any direct responsibility for finance or items of value? 
  • Does the post involve direct contact with the public?
  • Will the nature of the job present any opportunities for the post holder to re-offend in the course of work?

Assessing Criminal Records

When assessing applicants for a position, the focus will be on the individual’s skills, experience, abilities, and qualifications. Where an applicant has a criminal record, they may be given the opportunity to discuss the disclosed information with a DBS panel (which could include an HR Manager, the Dean / Director, and an independent senior manager) before a final recruitment decision is made. 

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

 When deciding on the risk, the following is considered:

  • Whether there has been a failure to disclose or a denial of the criminal record without a satisfactory reason;
  • The circumstances leading up to the offence;
  • The nature and seriousness of the offence(s) and the relevance of this / these to the intended employment (e.g. whether the post involves one-to-one contact with vulnerable groups, the level of supervision received by the post-holder, responsibility for finance or valuable items, contact with the public, opportunities for the post holder to re-offend);
  • The number and frequency of offences;
  • The recency of the offence(s) and the length of time that has elapsed since the offence(s);
  • Whether the applicant has a pattern of offending behaviour or other relevant matters;
  • The level of intent and the circumstances of the offence(s) and the explanation(s) offered by the applicant;
  • The wider personal, financial or domestic circumstances of the individual at the time of the offence(s);
  • Any changes in lifestyle, circumstances or attitudes on the part of the individual subsequent to the offence(s);
  • The country in which the offence was committed (e.g. some activities are offences in Scotland and not in England);
  • Whether an offence has since been decriminalised;
  • Whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed since the offence was committed, making re-offending less likely;
  • The degree of remorse, or otherwise, expressed by the applicant and their motivation to change;
  • With the applicant’s consent, further character references may be required to enable the University to make a reasoned and reasonable decision.

Outcomes of the Consideration of Criminal Offences

There is a range of possible outcomes arising from the consideration of a candidate’s criminal record:

  • Where a DBS check confirms information we may already have considered, the offer of employment will not be rescinded without good reason.
  • Having considered the evidence, references and/or representation by the individual and found them to be satisfactory, the offer of employment may be confirmed, and the candidate cleared for employment without condition.
  • Where, after interviewing the candidate and after reasoned and reasonable consideration of all the relevant facts, it is felt that the candidate cannot be employed, the candidate shall be advised and given the reason for the decision.
  • Offers of employment will be subject to final approval by the Director of Human Resources.

Failure to Reveal a Conviction or Criminal Background

Failure to reveal full details of a criminal record in the case of posts subject to a DBS check may lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment. Candidates will be allowed to discuss such situations fully before a decision on whether to withdraw an offer of employment is made.

Should the failure to reveal details of any unspent convictions or a criminal record become known once employment has commenced, the matter will be investigated, and disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, may be taken.

DBS checks for existing members of staff

There may be occasions where a criminal record check may be requested during employment, 

  1. if the employee applies successfully to an Edge Hill University advertised vacancy 
  2. the nature of the duties of their existing post is subject to future change and will include regulated duties regularly requiring a standard or enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service. 

Supervision of work experience

Supervising a 16 or 17-year-old’s work experience is not classed as Regulated Activity, and a DBS check may not be requested for this purpose. A DBS check may only be required for work experience students under 16 in the rare event that the same individual is teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising them whilst unsupervised on a frequent/intensive basis (more than 3 days in a 30-day period). 

Rechecking existing members of staff

Aligned to the duties of regulated activity, Edge Hill University will request consent from employees subject to DBS Disclosure to recheck their criminal record status every 3 years. (i.e., 3 years from the issue date on the DBS certificate). 

This will occur via a new DBS application unless the employee is signed up to the DBS Update Service to facilitate a ‘status check’.

The DBS update Service

The DBS Update service is an online subscription that allows individuals to keep an enhanced DBS certificate up to date and allow employers to check a certificate online and get a result straight away. The subscription charge for the update service is currently £13 per annum.

Edge Hill University may accept Disclosures transferred from other organisations during pre-employment clearances where all the following conditions are met:

  • The applicant subscribes to the online update service and
  • The level of DBS check required by the University is identical to that already held by the applicant and
  • The nature of the work the applicant is to undertake is broadly the same as that for which they obtained their previous DBS clearance.

Individuals can join the Update Service once they have their DBS check application form reference number. They can also join the Update Service with their certificate number within 30 calendar days of the ‘date of issue’ of their DBS certificate. 

Edge Hill University do not currently require employees to subscribe to the Update Service after obtaining the DBS check but encourages this practice.

Subscription to the update service supports Edge Hill University in facilitating a re-check of DBS status with an immediate result. This is dependent on the certificate matching the DBS check level needed for the current duties of the role (e.g., Enhanced check with Children barring list). 

 Please be aware that a change in name after registering for the update service will require a new DBS check to occur.

Convictions and other Criminal Offences arising during employment

Employees must disclose, immediately upon conviction, any offence that arises during their employment. A full appraisal will take place when a conviction or other criminal offence arises after employment has commenced. We will consider whether the conviction is relevant, whether there is a significant risk and whether this may be reduced through safeguards. Where appropriate, this will be determined via a panel meeting, normally including HR, the Dean / Director and possibly an independent senior manager. Only where there are issues of the significant risk that cannot be reduced would dismissal be considered.

Employees from External Organisations working within Edge Hill University

If employees from an external organisation come to work at the University either on an ad hoc basis or a long-term/regular basis and undertake a post or duties for which a DBS check is required, they will be subject to the procedures set out in this policy.



Recruitment of Ex-Offenders Policy 

Document Owner

Director of Human Resources 

Date of Publication

February 2023

Date of Review

February 2026


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