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Are you a trustee or senior manager of a charity? Check if your criminal record might prevent you from that role from August 2018. Act now!

From 1st August 2018, changes to the ‘automatic disqualification’ rules mean that there will be more restrictions on those who may run a charity.

The guidance that we’ve published today, Leading charities with conviction, coincides with the opening of the Charity Commission’s new ‘waiver’ system. From 1st February 2018, people affected by these changes may use the system to apply for advance clearance.

The current rules only apply to trustees. People with unspent convictions for certain offences, including dishonesty and deception offences, are prevented from being a trustee until they apply for, and are granted, clearance from the Charity Commission.

There are two main changes happening in August this year:

  1. There are more offences covered – including people on the sex offenders register
  2. There are more roles covered – the rules will apply to senior manager positions such as chief executives and chief finance officers.

There are over 11 million people in this country with a criminal record, and they play a vital role in contributing to charities.

We would rather not have had to write this guidance. We believe the changes to the rules are unnecessary and ineffective. But as they are coming in, people need to act now. It’s important that neither individuals nor charities think that these changes mean people with criminal records can’t be involved in charities – they can and they should.

Our message is this: don’t wait until August. If you’re involved in a charity and find that, from reading our guidance you’ll be disqualified from August 2018 because of your specific criminal record, today is the first day from which you may apply for a waiver. If you’re granted a waiver, it means you’re no longer disqualified.

Read our guidance for individuals and also use our simple online tool that should help you work out if you’re affected by the changes.

Separately, we’ve also published guidance for charities.

Written by Christopher Stacey

Have you applied to be a trustee of a charity with a criminal record? If so, we’d like to hear from you

People with criminal records play an important role in many charities, especially those working in the criminal justice sector. However, if you’ve been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or deception and the conviction is unspent, you’re currently disqualified from becoming a trustee of a charity and must therefore seek a waiver from the Charity Commission.

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016, due to be introduced in early 2018, extend these rules,. This will mean more people with convictions will be affected, and it’ll also cover senior manager roles in charities.

We’re working on guidance for both individuals and charities, to help them deal with the changes. So we’d like to hear from you if you’ve got some personal experience of this. For example, you might have:

  1. Become a trustee while your criminal record was unspent – how did that process work for you?
  2. Applied to a charity to become a trustee and your application was not progressed because of your criminal record.
  3. Found that charities have policies in place that actively excluded you from applying
  4. Applied to the Charity Commission for waiver – was it successful? Or was it refused?

We’re also keen to hear you if you think you’ll be affected as a result of the changes.

Please send details of your experiences by email to These will be kept confidential. More details on what we do with your experiences.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our becoming a trustee of a charity section
  2. Questions – If you have any questions you can contact our helpline
  3. Our policy work – Read about the policy work we’re doing on enabling people with convictions to become trustees and run charities.

Trustee or senior manager of a charity and have convictions? Are you affected by the Charities Act 2016?

People with convictions play an important role in many charities, particularly those working in the criminal justice sector. Becoming a trustee or leading a charity as part of the senior management team are important roles that people with convictions should be encouraged to take on, and we know it can provide people with a positive pro-social identity.

That’s why for the last few years, we’ve taken an active interest in the extensions to the rules that have become law through the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016. I’ve just published a blog on our main website to cover some of the background to where we are now, and help you to understand whether you’re affected.

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

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12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

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