Case study – Misleading question on a support organisation’s referral form

 

We were recently contacted by an individual who had been referred by his local job centre to an organisation that ran a job club assisting individuals to get back into work. He was very concerned that the organisation’s referral form asked a question that he believed was misleading and could have led him to disclose his spent conviction. The question stated:

 

Have you ever been convicted of: *   Sexual Offences Act 2003, Arson, Violent Behaviour, None 

Are you currently subject to any: *  Court orders, Licence Probation, MAPPA arrangements, None

 

We reassured the individual that irrespective of the wording of the question, there was no legal requirement for him to disclose his spent conviction.

We contacted the organisation to raise our concerns about the misleading question, explaining that under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, individuals seeking to join a job club were only required to disclose unspent convictions. Therefore, in our opinion, the declaration was misleading and could lead people to disclose information that the organisation legally was not entitled to hold.

The organisation contacted us, thanking us for making them aware of our concerns. They informed us that their referral form would be amended, making it compliant with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA).

We subsequently checked the referral form and found they have totally removed all questions relating to criminal records.

 

Lessons

This case demonstrates how organisations may believe they have the right to ask certain questions to assist with their referral procedure, but fail to follow their responsibilities under disclosure legislation. This can lead to misleading questions being asked, resulting in confusion and individuals over-disclosing or being discouraged from coming forward.

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Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s work with organisations.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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