We greatly welcome the Criminal Disclosure reforms announced today (24 August 2020). Even before unemployment rose as a result of the COVID pandemic, previous rules made it extremely difficult for employers to see the person, not the past.
Now more than ever, we believe it is important that a wide range of opportunities are made available to people. Entry level jobs will not suit the skills and capabilities of every person with a conviction, and it is important that we do not create a belief that those with convictions should be grateful to have any job, as the system makes it difficult for them to find employment. This creates a ‘glass ceiling’ for people with convictions, making it difficult to progress as others might, and risking a situation where employment becomes a barrier to moving on from their past, rather than facilitating it.
We have enjoyed a really constructive dialogue with the small business sector in particular in preparing for this through our part in the Scotland Works for You alliance alongside Disclosure Scotland. We will continue to develop these relationships to further support some of our most vulnerable in society to move on as the reforms come in to play.
We have worked closely with Disclosure Scotland as part of the Scotland Works for You alliance to create a training course which helps employers in the recruitment, risk assessment, and employment of people with convictions. This training is run regularly to private and public sector employers.
The Wise Group is a founding member of Release Scotland, the only body which provides the voice of the private sector businesses in the debate on employing people with convictions. These reforms opens up the job market for thousands of good quality candidates who previously felt excluded.
Since 2013, the Wise Group and our partners in the New Routes PSP have supported almost 5000 young men serving short-term sentences in Scotland. Around half of those we have engaged with have developed skills which improve their chances of getting a job, and over 500 have entered employment. The Wise Group is also a delivery partner in the SHINE Women’s Mentoring PSP, specifically supporting women in the justice system.
The Wise Group worked with government last year to ensure that our Fair Start Scotland programme could also welcome those with convictions. This is now live, allowing the Wise Group to offer tailored employment support to those with convictions.
If you’d like to work with the Wise Group to support people preparing to leave prison, please get in touch.