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01 June 2015
Civil service set-up blocking applicants with criminal records, admits senior official

Civil service set-up blocking applicants with criminal records, admits senior official

Scotland’s civil service has been set up in such a way as to “keep out” those with criminal convictions, the official in charge of government’s fair work agenda has admitted.

Joe Griffin, who was recently appointed director for fair work in the Scottish Government, revealed a formal review is now underway to ensure individuals with criminal records are not simply overlooked.

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Paul Wheelhouse last month urged employers to do more to make sure those with criminal convictions are not excluded from the jobs market.

However, speaking at the same summit, Griffin – a former principal private secretary for the First Minister – conceded that the government’s own record has been far from exemplary.

“We’ve had systems that have been designed to try and keep people out that have had a criminal conviction, so we are now reviewing that,” he said.

“There is a formal review ongoing and we need to see how we can unpick some of these obstacles so that people who have offended have at least an equal chance along with others.”

Griffin pointed to changes in procedures brought about by an increase in the number of modern apprentices within government as well as rollout of the living wage as evidence that progress can be achieved on this front.   
 
“Bureaucracies don’t move fast, we’re part of a much bigger bureaucracy in that we’re still part of the UK civil service as well and things have been set up as the civil service in order to try and keep people with a criminal conviction out,” said Griffin. 
 
“We are trying to change that. I think there are steps that we can take really rather quickly in terms of placements or work experience or secondments, and that’s something that we’ll look to try and move with quite quickly. 
 
“And whether, in some of the agencies and NDPBs [non departmental public bodies], there is more scope to move more quickly is again something that we’re having a look at.”     
 
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As part of a wider discussion on employability as a means of reducing re-offending rates, the Ministerial Group on Offender Reintegration recommended that the Scottish Government should recognise the importance of leading by example and will examine its recruitment and security policies.
 
“Our current approach considers each case on its own merits rather than applying a blanket position and we are in discussions on how best to collaborate with other public and private sector employers to support placements for those with previous convictions.”

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