Time for Policy Redemption : A Review of the Evidence on the Disclosure of Criminal Records

Published: March 2018

There is wide variation in disclosure practices within and between the U.S, the U.K and Europe, although there is some consensus that reasons for checking criminal records by employers include: minimising risk of liability and loss; concerns surrounding public protection where the nature of employment includes working with vulnerable groups; assessments of moral character in terms of honesty and trustworthiness; and compliance with statutory occupational requirements (Blumstein and Nakamura, 2009). As the use of criminal record background checks by employers has become increasingly pervasive, having a criminal record can have significant effects on employment prospects producing ‘invisible punishment’ or ‘collateral consequences’ of contact with the justice system (Travis 2002). Taking into account that over 38% of men and 9% of women in Scotland are estimated to have at least one criminal conviction (McGuinness, McNeill and Armstrong, 2013), issues surrounding criminal record checking and disclosure in an employment context affect a large proportion of people.

Authors / Editors

Prof Beth Weaver

University of Strathclyde

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