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Academic study condemns criminal record tick box

An academic study undertaken by Dr Beth Weaver at Strathclyde University has been released and found that the criminal record tick box on job applications does little to predict whether an individual could potentially re-offend.

Speaking to the BBC news, Weaver believes that applicants with previous convictions are overlooked for job roles and urged that applicants should only get asked about criminal convictions during the latter stage of the job application process.

Weaver’s findings have gained much support from the ‘ban the box’ campaign, which advocates that employers drop the criminal record declarations from job application forms.

So far more than 115 employers across the UK have welcomed this movement and agreed to drop the box.

The research highlighted that people with past convictions were no more likely to re-offend compared to people that do not hold a criminal record, however, employers would still prefer to hire an individual with no criminal history even if the risk of offending is the same.

Dr Weaver told the BBC News that “we refuse as a society to believe that people can change – we are a risk averse society and we think we are protecting ourselves if we have information as to whether someone has a criminal record or not”.

Virgin Trains are one of the employers who have banned the box for a few years now and its communications manager Damian Henderson said that talking to people about their past sentences fares much better than refusing them based on a tick box at the start of an application form.

The company expressed that it tries to look beyond a person’s conviction to see what attributes they can offer the company, however, Henderson did state that Virgin Trains do not offer job roles to anyone that has been convicted of the most serious crimes such as sexual offences or murder.