14th September 2020
UK charities Unlock and The Prison Reform Trust have published ‘Thinking Differently: Employer’s views on hiring people convicted of sexual offences’, a report based on two surveys regarding the employment of those previously convicted of sexual offences.
The surveys were completed by 43 employers from several industries and sought to understand employers’ attitudes towards hiring previous sex offenders and employers understanding of what hiring a previously convicted offender involves and any potential impacts it on their business.
As a background, sexual offences cover a wide range of very different behaviours. The term sexual offence can range from the most serious statutory offences to cases of a minor sending images to their partner. On 31st March 2019, 160,294 were on the register of sexual offenders in the UK. People charged with sexual offences are vulnerable to a serious, blanketed stigma which can impact their employability in a long-term manner. Reoffending is statistically lower amongst those charged with sexual offences compared to other offences.
The report highlights how research has shown that a stable job can reduce the chance of reoffending through providing structure, belonging, personal fulfilment, and perception of something to lose. The report provides feedback from relevant professionals, such as probation officers, and employers showing that people convicted of sexual offences who are given the opportunity to re-enter employment are often highly reliable, grateful and stable employees. Only 11% of employers surveyed were concerned about the reliability when considering applicants with previous sexual convictions. Balancing the views of employers with risk and safety management is crucial to the strategy of employing those with sexual convictions.
Key survey findings
Interestingly, a longer version of the survey which provided additional information regarding sexual offences and employing previous offenders was provided to some employers, who as a result were 3 times less likely to cite concerns regarding reoffending.
Support for employability of those with previous sexual convictions must also be active within prisons: prolonged in-cell time and lack of training/educational supports within prisons can make it even more difficult for employers to consider these applicants upon release.
There was also a series of recommendations made to the New Futures Network and others in the report.
Unlock and The Prison Reform Trust highlight that this was a small-scale report which included employers who, by engaging with their social media where the survey was posted, were potentially more open to hiring people with convictions from the outset.
You can read report ‘Thinking Differently: Employer’s views on hiring people convicted of sexual offences’ in full here.
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.