A welcome change
The Wise Group welcomes today’s implementation of the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2020. For over 14 years we have been supporting people leaving prison to rebuild their lives. We have actively recruited people with previous convictions in our belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to change their lives and be a positive contributor as part of a diverse and talented workforce. Watch Sharon’s story.
The changes which come into law today will reduce the period for which certain convictions need to be disclosed to prospective employers. It is hoped that these changes will help people with convictions find employment and support desistance and re-integration to communities.
This is a step on the journey to a fairer system of criminal records disclosure where individuals are no longer penalised for mistakes that they may have made many years previously. The Wise Group is all about transforming lives and we cannot reiterate enough the transformative impact of taking people at face value. We see the positive impact of this approach through the work of mentors. Building trust and empowering people to make positive, progressive and personally bold decisions to move on from the person they were and the associated conviction to becoming the person they aspire to be.
Benefitting employers too
The changes will also be beneficial to employers in our rapidly changing labour market by opening up a largely untapped pool of talent. This is talent which has been habitually precluded from roles that they are qualified to carry out due to employment practices which seek to establish previous offending history at the earliest opportunity in the recruitment process. Surely it makes more sense to identify the right person for the vacancy and have the conversation around disclosure in a mature and transparent manner? Businesses that have already adopted this approach say that people with convictions tend to be highly productive, loyal and have a high retention rate.
Nothing stops offending more than a payslip
In the Wise Group, we know from experience that nothing stops offending like a payslip. It is not only a positive experience for the employer and employee, there’s a societal benefit too. In its simple terms, we know that the cost of keeping someone in prison for a year is around £40k per year. Add to that costs associated with police, Crown Office, Courts Service and Legal Aid and that figure could double.
By supporting people with convictions to obtain and sustain employment, we reduce the chances of them re-offending, reduce its associated costs and they become net contributors to society via Tax and National Insurance payments. Stable employment is a significant factor in reducing re-offending. A Ministry of Justice research project (2013) concluded that employment within 12 months of leaving prison reduces re-offending by 50%.
If you’d like to work with the Wise Group to support people preparing to leave prison, please get in touch.