Jimmy is unemployed and claiming job seekers allowance. He’s been unemployed since his conviction 3 years ago. He was given a suspended sentence for offences involving violence. Since then, he’s been trying to find work but has received very little support from the job centre. When he first signed on, he was told that he’d struggle to find work with a criminal record and they couldn’t really help.
“They told me there wasn’t much they could do. They said I had to disclose my criminal record, and that was about it. When I asked if they could suggest any useful organisations, they just referred me to Unlock and gave me your telephone number to ring. They gave me the impression that Unlock was part of the job centre and you could help me find work. I never realised Unlock is just a small charity. What you do is great, but I’m not sure that’s the right way for job centres to be helping people in my situation.”
Unlock provides advice and information to people with convictions, but we don’t take formal referrals from the Job Centre, and it’s always a challenge when people are referred to us by the job centre.
Commenting on Jimmy’s experience, Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said:
“We’re a small national charity with lots of information and advice that is important to people with a criminal record. However, job centres often think that they can simply refer people to us. We don’t have the funding or resources to enable us to work in this way and it’s not possible for us to replace the role that job centres should be performing in supporting people finding work, whether they’ve got a criminal record or not.
“There is lots of information and advice that job centre advisors can and should be giving to people like Jimmy, such as when his criminal record becomes spent, how he can find out exactly what he should be disclosing to employers, and how he should go about disclosing. It’s not good enough for job centres to simply refer people to Unlock. We believe that every job centre should have a specified person that specialises in finding employment for people with a criminal record; they represent between a quarter and a third of people out-of-work, so we’re not talking about isolated cases.”
Notes about this case
- This case relates to Unlock’s policy work on improving support for individuals with a criminal record to secure meaningful employment.
- Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
- Other policy cases are listed here.