Bristol City Council signals fair chance for ex-offenders with Ban the Box

Bristol City Council has become the first local authority in the UK to become a Ban the Box employer, removing barriers to employment for people with criminal convictions.

The council has removed the tick box asking about criminal convictions from its job application forms for all roles that don’t require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Business in the Community’s Ban the Box campaign calls on UK employers to give ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs and assess their skills and talents before asking about criminal convictions.

The change in Bristol means that anyone with an unspent conviction will not be asked about their past at the beginning of the recruitment process. Only successful candidates will be asked about previous convictions and disclosures will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Speaking at an Employer Champions Network event hosted by Business in the Community today, Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member and Chair of Bristol City Council’s Human Resources Committee, said: “We’re taking this step because we want to be an employer that encourages and provides opportunities for people from all backgrounds. There’s also a benefit for us in that we’re unblocking a barrier that will ensure we’re making the most of Bristol’s deep talent pool.

We’re a city of broad talents and being one of the largest employers in the West of England we want to show others that this approach does not open the organisation to greater risk. Instead it increases an employer’s ability to recruit the right person for the right job whilst still ensuring the right and proper checks are in place.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said in a statement: “Bristol is a place where the opportunities to share in the city’s success are not evenly distributed and barriers exist that prevent some from fulfilling their potential. Our aim is to remove one of those barriers and send a message that we’re interested in getting to know the person applying for the job first and begin our conversation there.”

Business in the Community’s Employment Director, Cath Sermon said: “Bristol City Council has taken a huge step towards reducing reoffending in Bristol through its inclusive recruitment practices. We’d now like to see all local authorities Ban the Box. As some of the largest employers in their localities, councils are in a unique position to give local people with convictions the chance to turn their lives around and make a positive contribution to society.”

Business in the Community will be working with partners across sectors in the South West to bring more employers on board with the campaign, providing more opportunities for people who want to turn their lives around.

Read more about Bristol City Council’s commitment to Ban the Box in our case study.

Find out more and sign up to Ban the Box.