Last reviewed 25 February 2021

Getting businesses to make a small change to their recruitment practices has opened up over one million roles to jobseekers with criminal convictions, Business in the Community (BiTC) has pointed out.

Set up in 2013, BiTC’s Ban the Box campaign urges employers to remove the criminal convictions tick box from their application forms, although they can still ask about convictions later in the process if appropriate.

Now, the organisation created by the Prince of Wales to champion responsible business said, 150 employers — including banks, law firms and supermarket chains — are helping the 11.7 million people in the UK with criminal convictions to apply for work.

Simply removing the box has had a big impact on the UK economy, BiTC claimed.

Reoffending is costing taxpayers, businesses and communities £18.1 billion annually and, when those with criminal convictions are in work, they are 34% less likely to reoffend.

BiTC Employment and Skills Director, Nicola Inge, said: “The 150 companies who have stepped up to Ban the Box understand that finding your next recruit isn’t about ticking a box, it’s about considering people with the right skills and experience, and not judging them on past mistakes”.

These people could diversify the workforce and provide a huge return on a company’s investment, she went on, but they need to be given a second chance.

Banning the box works for business too, BiTC points out.

A third (35%) of employers who are taking part believe that it has solved skills shortages in their businesses; a similar percentage said that being part of this initiative has helped retain or win new contracts; and more than twice as many (74%) found that commitment to the campaign has benefited their reputation.

Minister for Prisons and Probation, Lucy Frazer, said: “In the Civil Service, we have banned the box from all but the most sensitive roles and I’d urge all employers to follow suit”.

Comment by Andrew Willis, Head of Legal at Croner

It is great to see that so many employers benefit from this; it speaks to how crucial the stability that employers offer is to an ex-offender’s chances of contributing legitimately to the UK economy.

Perhaps more firms will now be persuaded to take the same approach, especially as the Government’s roadmap out of England’s lockdown indicates that things could return to “normal” by the end of June 2021.