We recognise that employment plays an important part in preventing ex-offenders from sliding back into crime. Therefore, although our criminal record criterion will be robust and rigorous, we will also pay due attention to the principles of rehabilitation so there are no unnecessary barriers for the employment of ex-offenders.
We will in all cases verify an applicant’s identity and undertake a criminal record check. Where the check reveals that the applicant has a record of convictions or cautions or warnings, we will consider these carefully on the basis of…
- How relevant the offences were to the licence applied for
- How serious the offences were, and
- How recent they were.
We will pay special attention to offences involving violence, weapons, drugs, criminal damage and sexual offences.
The principle is that anyone who has committed a relevant offence within two years immediately before their application will not get a licence. Anyone who has committed a serious offence within 5 years before the application is unlikely to be awarded a licence. There is scope to consider other cases on their merits and we will refine and make available further guidelines in due course.
While a licence is in force, we shall receive updates of new convictions and cautions for licence holders. This will allow us to decide whether action needs to be taken on the continuation of the licence.
We will require access to at least a continuous five year period of verifiable, authoritative records against which to assess an applicant’s criminal record. If we can’t obtain this (for example if an applicant has been overseas where verifiable records are unavailable) then we won’t be able to grant a licence. We are working with the Criminal Records Bureau and the Foreign Office to minimise the occasions on which this will apply.
Final guidance on our approach to criminality checks will be published in due course and well before the start of licensing.