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Recruitment of Ex-Offenders


1. This Policy document sets out the best practice for the following in cases where a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate has been obtained and a criminal record or other information has been revealed.

  • Managers,
  • HR Specialists or
  • any other member of staff involved with the recruitment and selection process

This Policy, written in accordance with the DBS code of practice, advises that it is a requirement of all registered bodies to treat all DBS applicants fairly. It also advises not to discriminate automatically due to a conviction or other information held.


2. The objective of the Policy is to make sure that the Councils deal with any information obtained from a DBS certificate appropriately and in a non-discriminatory way. This Policy will apply to all roles across the council which require a DBS check at any level. It can be made available to DBS applicants at the outset of the recruitment process.


3. The Manager and HR Specialist should make sure that all stages of recruitment are free from discrimination on the grounds of a characteristic protected under the Equality Act. This includes the steps involving a DBS check and the process of considering recruitment of ex-offenders.

General Principles

4. South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils comply fully with the DBS code of practice.

The councils are organisations who need to assess applicants' suitability for positions using criminal record checks processed through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Some of these positions are included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order. The councils undertake to treat all applicants for positions fairly.

5. The councils will undertake not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a criminal record check on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed.

Providing Details of Cautions and Convictions

6. The Councils can only ask an individual to provide details of convictions and cautions that they, as employers, are legally entitled to know about.

The councils can only legally request a DBS certificate at either standard or enhanced level

  • where the position is included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 as amended; and
  • (where appropriate) Police Act Regulations as amended.

7. The Councils can only ask an individual about convictions and cautions that are not protected.

DBS Checks During Recruitment

8. The Councils are committed to the fair treatment of staff, potential staff or users of its services, regardless of

  • race,
  • gender,
  • religion,
  • sexual orientation,
  • responsibilities for dependants,
  • age,
  • physical/mental disability or
  • offending background.

9. The Councils actively promote equality of opportunity for all with the right mix of talent, skills and potential. We welcome applications from a wide range of candidates, including those with criminal records.

10. Following the application stage, the Councils select all candidates for Assessment based on their skills, qualifications and experience.

11. Before an application for a criminal record check is submitted to DBS, a thorough risk assessment is carried out. This risk assessment must show that a check is proportionate and relevant to the position concerned.

If a criminal record check is identified as necessary, job adverts etc. will contain a statement that an application for a DBS certificate will be submitted if the individual  is offered the position.

Selection of Candidates

12. The Councils ensure that all members of staff who are involved in the recruitment and selection process have been suitably trained. Part of this training is to identify and assess circumstances of offences, and whether they are relevant.

3. The Councils 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.

14. During the Assessment process or in a separate discussion, the Councils will discuss openly any offences or other matter that might be relevant to the position. Failure to reveal information that is directly relevant to the position sought could lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment.

15. The Councils will make every subject of a criminal record check submitted to DBS aware of the existence of the code of practice and make a copy available on request.

16. The Councils will undertake to discuss any matter revealed on a DBS certificate with the individual seeking the position before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment.

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