Fair recruitment – Applicants with a criminal record

We will only ask job applicants about their criminal record at the point we make a conditional offer of employment, at the same time as we seek references.

As we grow, we will consider as we create roles the necessity for undertaking criminal records checks for the people doing those jobs. In most cases they will not be necessary.

The obvious role where it will be necessary to consider somebody’s criminal record will be anybody who we, in due course, recruit as a Trainee Solicitor / or hoping to qualify as a Cilex Lawyer, where the relevant professional body conducts a criminal records check at the point of qualification.

Where it is appropriate to ask someone about their criminal record we will ask them to do so and if they have any convictions / cautions we will arrange to meet with them to discuss the incident and what the applicant has done since that conviction before making any decision about withdrawing the conditional offer of employment.

We know that:

  • People sometimes wrongly accept cautions for things they haven’t done, without understanding that doing so is an admission of guilt.
  • There are lengthy delays in criminal cases reaching trial and for some people the temptation to plead guilty when they are innocent to get the case over with will have been overwhelming.
  • Equally, Legal Aid is limited and self-funding a defence can be expensive; there may be a financial incentive to plead guilty when innocent.
  • Courts don’t get everything right; innocent people can be wrongly convicted.
  • Black people and other people from minority ethnic groups can have a disproportionate level of convictions compared with white people.
  • Older criminal convictions (eg. those more than about seven years old) are not a good guide to how somebody is conducting themselves now.
  • People’s personal circumstances can change over time, making them more or less likely to commit further offences.
  • Criminal offences vary in seriousness and relevance to the workplace.
  • The circumstances leading to people committing a crime very considerably.
  • Some people have one or a couple of convictions, others have a long history of them.
  • Sometimes people are convicted of offences that are later decriminalised.
  • Sometimes people are convicted of offences abroad where the act itself isn’t an offence in England or is viewed much more or less seriously here.
  • Someone who is able to admit to and talk about their crime, showing evidence of remorse may be much less of a risk than someone who has never been caught.

We will not discriminate unfairly against someone with a criminal record in making decisions about employment.