Skip to main content

Recruiting People with Criminal Records

As an organisation committed to equality and diversity, Concern Worldwide UK (Concern UK) recognises the contribution that all people can make to the charity’s aims as employees or volunteers and so we welcome enquiries of interest from everyone.

Purpose and Scope

This document informs applicants of the approach Concern UK will follow in managing declared criminal records.

Concern UK recognises that any potential employees and volunteers may be ex-offenders and/ or have criminal records, and might be reluctant to apply for roles that would involve their disclosure. We understand that people are often ashamed and embarrassed about their cautions and convictions, and fear they will not be treated fairly because of them. We also understand that obtaining gainful employment or voluntary work can enable people who have put their criminal past behind them to become productive, financially independent members of society. We therefore wish to reassure all our potential employees and volunteers that Concern UK judges everybody who applies to work for or volunteer with us first and foremost on their skills, experience and merits.

Concern UK believes that asking applicants about a criminal record at the job or voluntary role offer stage is usually a more appropriate time in the recruitment process to consider criminal convictions than at the initial application stage. This ensures that we consider applicants first and foremost on the grounds of their skills, experience and ability to do the job or volunteer role. There are, however, some exceptions to this approach and we may ask candidates for certain positions about previous convictions at the time that they apply. All vetting requirements will be displayed as part of the advertisement for any role.

Whenever we request information about criminal records, we will only consider them when we make a job/ voluntary role offer.  At this stage, if we have not requested a self-declaration as part of the application process, we may ask applicants to make a confidential declaration in the form of a written disclosure statement and/ or, depending on the role, request that they are subject to a formal criminal record check. We do this at the same time as we take references. All information disclosed will be treated in the strictest confidence. We reserve the right to withdraw job or volunteer role offers should a disclosure be made that we feel places Concern UK, or those related to the charity, at risk.

Employees who fail to disclose unspent convictions could be subject to disciplinary proceedings or dismissal and volunteers who do not disclose unspent convictions may be asked to leave their role.

Where considered proportionate for the particular position, Concern UK will request an appropriate level criminal record check from the relevant authorities. Where this is deemed necessary, all applicants will be made aware at the initial recruitment stage that Concern will request the individual being offered the position to undergo an appropriate criminal record disclosure check.  If the request is refused, Concern UK will be unable to proceed with the appointment.

It is important that all applicants understand that it is a criminal offence to apply for a post or volunteer role if they have been disbarred, in law, from applying.   

Applying for roles that are covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (non DBS/ PVG/ Access NI roles)

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 give people with spent convictions and cautions the right not to disclose them when applying for most jobs and voluntary roles. Information about which roles are covered by the Act, and when a caution or conviction becomes spent can be found


If you are applying for a role (paid or voluntary) that is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, Concern UK:

  • May ask you to complete a confidential declaration disclosing any unspent convictions


Applying for roles that are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

If you are applying for a role (paid or voluntary) that is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974/ The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978, Concern UK:

  • Will ask you to agree to a criminal record check appropriate to the role applied for. This will be made with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau) in England and Wales via a carefully selected third party and directly with AccessNI in Northern Ireland. If the disclosure reveals information that Concern UK was not previously aware of, we will discuss the matter with you before making a final decision about your potential appointment. Help with guidance and criteria on the filtering of cautions and convictions can be found:
  • We may also ask you to complete a confidential declaration in relation to any convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings that are not ‘protected’ as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013 or The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 and the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Northern Ireland Order 1979 (both as amended)


We work on the assumption that people applying for voluntary work in order to help others, to meet new people, to develop new skills, to make a difference, etc., have no ulterior motive in seeking such work. With this in mind, we will wherever possible provide opportunities for people, and do so in ways that will not put you or others at risk.

What does 'spent' mean:

If a person does not re-offend during their rehabilitation period, their conviction becomes 'spent' (as defined by The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974). A lot of convictions that are spent are not considered to be relevant and you will not be required to reveal them. You should note that certain offences are never spent, and that for certain roles, you are required to declare all convictions whether spent or unspent. Please see the pre-engagement requirements for the role.

What are the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978?

These Acts aim to help people who have been convicted of certain criminal offences and have not reoffended since being convicted. The Acts enable people with few or minor convictions to 'put their past behind them' and be treated as everyone else with regard to employment and equal opportunity.

The following convictions must always be disclosed i.e. are never considered spent:

Relevant criminal offences include convictions, cautions, admonitions, reprimands, and final warnings, bind over orders or similar involving one or more of the following:

  • Any kind of violence including (but not limited to) threatening behaviour, offences concerning the intention to harm or offences which resulted in actual bodily harm
  • Offences listed in the Sex Offences Act 2003
  • The unlawful supply of controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns commercial drug dealing or trafficking
  • Offences involving firearms
  • Offences involving arson
  • Offences listed in the Terrorism Act 2006.


How Concern UK makes decisions on suitability for a role where a criminal record is disclosed:

Decisions will be made on a case by case basis, assessing risk in relation to the nature of the role. The hiring manager and a member of the Concern UK’s HR department and/or Safeguarding Unit will review all relevant information to hand in order to make a fair and balanced decision.  The information considered would include the criminal record disclosure and any other relevant information that may inform a risk assessment such as application form, interview notes and references.


Share your concern