DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

Care Check is a leading umbrella body for the Disclosure and Barring Service and has been named one of the top 8 providers for criminal record checks in the UK.

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A Comprehensive Guide To Ex-Offenders & Employment

For many ex-offenders, the biggest challenge they face when re-entering society is finding work. This can be extremely difficult, especially if they have a criminal record. 

However, there are things that ex-offenders can do to make themselves more appealing to employers and increase their chances of getting a job. This includes networking, volunteering, and taking advantage of employment programs offered by organisations like ex-offender support groups. By doing these things, ex-offenders can put themselves in a much better position to find meaningful work and start rebuilding their lives.

In this blog post, we explore the current situation faced by ex-offenders looking for employment, how they can put their best foot forward when searching for work, frequently asked questions and what employers can do. 

Ex-offender Employment Statistics & Recruitment Barriers 

Many ex-offenders find it challenging to obtain employment once they have been released from prison. This is due to a number of reasons, such as bias. But surprisingly, the reason most commonly cited by employers for turning away ex-offenders is that they deem them as unskilled and untrustworthy. 

However, the government has gone to great lengths to change this by introducing programs that train and upskill offenders while behind bars. These efforts have resulted in increased employment for ex-offenders. 

According to gov.uk, “the proportion of persons released from custody employed at six weeks from their release rose by 6 percentage points to 16% between April 2021 and March 2022,” while the “proportion of persons released from custody employed at six months from their release rose by 9 percentage points to 23%” in the same period. While this is positive, many ex-offenders still struggle to find employment after their release. 

DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

Can DBS Checks Help Ex-offenders With Their Criminal Records?

One of the issues that contribute to ex-offenders not getting employment is that application forms often automatically filter ex-offenders out due to the conviction tick box. This seems somewhat unjustified; everyone deserves a fair chance to work. While it is understandable that some ex-offenders are not suitable for specific roles, many others are unfairly overlooked because of their past.

A DBS check could help with this. These background checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) could help determine whether an individual has any criminal convictions that would disqualify them from working with children or vulnerable adults.

It would also highlight information such as spent convictions, unspent cautions and warnings. In addition to this, crucial data related to an ex-offenders criminal record would also be exposed for any non-convictions that may affect hiring decisions, such as an ethics violation or falsifying documents during the application process.

Based on the information found in the basic, standard or enhanced DBS check, employers would be able to decide whether an ex-offender would actually be suitable for a job or not. 

Steps Ex-Offenders Can Follow To Get Employed 

It’s no secret that finding employment is tough for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for those who have a criminal record. If you’re an ex-offender looking for work, don’t give up – there are plenty of approaches you can take to increase your chances of landing a job. 

1. Consider Industries That Are Thriving 

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a third of businesses state that they are unable to find a big enough pool of potential employees that meet skill requirements. As a result, many companies and recruitment agencies have turned their attention to thinking outside of the box by hiring ex-offenders.

Growing industries can present ex-offenders with many opportunities, such as offering more job stability and security. Companies in thriving industries are often more willing to invest in their employees, providing opportunities for training and development. This will also likely result in growth and career advancement opportunities for ex-offenders. 

2. Polish Your Resume And Make Sure It Highlights The Skills You’ve Acquired

Whether you are starting from scratch or updating an existing one, it’s important to make sure your resume is as strong as possible. Tailor the resume to the specific job you are applying for by highlighting your most relevant skills and experience. Create a clean, structured format so that it’s easy to read. Finally, proofread your resume carefully before submitting it. Typos and mistakes can make a bad impression and cost you the job interview.

3. Finding Training Opportunities With Recruitment Companies

Finding training and educational opportunities as an ex-offender can be difficult. However, with a bit of research and perseverance, it is possible to find the right program for you. 

The government-funded organisation, the New Futures Network (NFN), helps ex-offenders and prisons find employment after their release. They work with employers to identify potential employees and match them up according to a set of criteria that both parties agree on – this may include criminal history or time spent in jail as well as education level attained while behind bars.

‘Pro-Offender’ Recruitment Companies

Nacro also provides a list of organisations that can actively help you find a permanent job, apprenticeship, and work placement with a criminal record. We encourage you to contact the organisation directly to ensure that you meet the requirements and obtain the correct information.

  • BITC Ready for Work
  • Choice Support
  • Clean Sheet
  • Fine Cell Work
  • Nova Training
  • Overlooked Talent
  • The Footprints Project
  • Working Chance

4. Prepare Yourself For Job Interviews

If you are an ex-offender, chances are you’re anxious about job interviews. You may not know what to expect or how to prepare. Here are some tips to help you make the best impression and get the job. 

Do your research and learn as much as you can about the company and the position you’re applying for. Be prepared to answer questions about why you left your last job, and more importantly, be ready to discuss your criminal history openly and honestly. 

Companies Hiring Ex-Offenders 

While many companies turn away from ex-offender, there are some who do hire ex-prisoners and are even benefiting from doing so. 

One company celebrated for its hiring of ex-offenders is Nacro. Nacro is a social justice charity supporting people with criminal convictions and offers a free helpline to employers seeking advice on dealing with employees and criminal records. 

With the rise in unfilled job vacancies, Nacro encourages employers to see that these individuals are part of a solution to the shortage of skilled staff and not a hindrance.

Other big UK companies known to hire ex-offenders are:

  • Timpson
  • Co-Op
  • DHL
  • Greggs
  • Boots the Chemist
  • Greene King
  • Iceland
  • Tesco
  • Pets at Home

In addition, a ‘Ban the Box’ campaign is calling for UK employers to give former offenders a fair chance to apply for jobs by removing the tick box from application forms and asking about criminal convictions later on in the recruitment process.

What Jobs Can’t You Do With A Criminal Record?

Depending on the nature of the crime you were convicted of, there are some roles that you may not be suitable to apply for. These include:

  • Roles where you will be working with vulnerable adults or children.
  • Positions within law enforcement, private security work, national security or the prison service.
  • The navy, air force or military.
  • Senior positions within finance and banking.
  • Certain positions within the healthcare, pharmaceutical or legal sector.

Advice For Employers Looking To Hire Ex-Offenders 

As advised under section 122 of the Police Act 1997, all organisations should have an ex-offenders policy to ensure that any job applicant with a criminal history is treated fairly and without discrimination. The policy should also outline how a company compiles criminal record information from potential employees and how this information will be used. This can be given to DBS applicants at the outset of the recruitment process.

The policy should also aim to safeguard staff, clients, service users and visitors.

Unless an applicant has been barred from working with vulnerable adults or children, an ex-offender should not be excluded from working for certain organisations or even volunteering in specific job areas. It is, in fact, illegal to discriminate against an applicant based on their criminal record if it is not relevant. 

However, an employer will always need to think carefully about whether a candidate is suitable for a role or not based on their history. The following questions should be considered when recruiting staff with a criminal background:

  1. Is the offence relevant to the role?
  2. How long has it been since the offence occurred?
  3. What is the nature of the role?

Once these questions have been established, the organisation can then proceed and make the recruitment decision to hire them or not.

FAQS For Ex-Offenders Looking For Employment

Below are some commonly asked questions for ex-offenders looking for employment.

If You Have A Criminal Record, You May Be Wondering If You Are Required To Disclose It To Potential Employers. The Answer To That Question Depends On A Number Of Factors, Including The Severity Of Your Conviction And The Type Of Job You’re Applying For. In Some Cases, You May Be Legally Obligated To Disclose Your Criminal Record, While In Others, It’s Up To Your Discretion. 

Disclosing a criminal record can be a difficult conversation to have. However, it is important that you are truthful with potential employers if they ask about your criminal history. In some cases, you may be able to disclose your record without penalty.


Nearly two-thirds of employers say they are likely to hire an ex-offender, but only if the individual is a good fit for the job. While having a criminal record decreases the likelihood of receiving a job offer, there are still steps that ex-offenders can take to improve their chances.

When it comes to hiring ex-offenders, many employers are still hesitant. However, a recent study has shown that there are some employers who are willing to give convicted felons a chance. In fact, about one-third of employers said they would be likely to hire an ex-offender. This is good news for those who have paid their debt to society and are looking for a second chance.

There are many things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job, such as networking with friends and family, volunteering, and improving your skills. The best thing you can do is source a pro-offender recruitment agency that specialises in helping offenders find sustainable employment, apprenticeships, and job placements. 

Final Thoughts On Employment For Ex-Offenders 

Finding employment as an ex-offenders can be extremely challenging due to bias and discrimination. However, there are some steps ex-offenders can take, as well as specific programs and companies they can look into in order to improve their chances of finding a job. We hope that this information will be helpful for those who are looking for a second chance. If you would like some more information surrounding this issue, please contact us today at 0333 777 8575.

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