Supporting the customer with a criminal conviction is the next step in the ISA process. The key to supporting customers is helping them overcome barriers faced due to their criminal record. Knowledge such as where to apply and how to disclose is the key in this phase. 

At this stage of the journey, a Work Coach will have identified if their customer has any previous criminal convictions. The first thing a Work Coach may ask themselves is:

Do we need to disclose that the candidate has a conviction to a potential employer?


Not all previous convictions need to be disclosed. You may need to understand if the conviction is spent.


A spent conviction essentially means that after a certain period of time the conviction does not need to be disclosed any longer. If the customer’s conviction is spent, the Work Coach can carry on assisting the individual in finding employment as they would with any other customer. If the conviction is not spent, the Work Coach may need to consider:


  • Which employers ask about offences?

  • What type of offence resulted in the conviction? 

  • What employment opportunities are therefore suitable and available? 

Does this criminal conviction come with any restrictions? 

A restriction could possibly be a driving ban or being barred from working with children and vulnerable adults; it could be geography specific or restrict the use of unmonitored IT equipment. 

They may also need to consider the following:

Does this criminal conviction come with any restrictions? 


A restriction could come in a few different ways such as:

  • a driving ban

  • being barred from working with children and vulnerable adults

  • it could be geography specific, such as not being able to go to certain areas

  • it could be a restriction on the use of unmonitored IT equipment​

Let’s imagine you have a candidate that is banned from driving for two years... It can be common enough nowadays for job applications to include the necessity for a full driving licence. There could be two approaches to this; one being to approach the employer and see if they would consider an applicant who cannot drive, and the other being to narrow the job search to only include jobs that do not require a driving licence. Understanding the restrictions that may come with different convictions is key to adequately supporting the customer. 

Another example of a restriction would be that the customer may not be allowed to work with children or with vulnerable adults. If this is the case the Work Coach would need to limit their search a bit more. If a Work Coach ever needs assistance or is unsure, they can turn to charities like or for advice.

What advice can I give the customer? 


One of the best pieces of advice that can be given to a customer is to be honest about what their restrictions are in relation to their conviction, but also to provide you with information on what skills and attributes they have. 


Whilst saying this, it can be important to understand that not all customers will know all their offences or restrictions. Be patient and work with them – consider speaking with their probation officer to create a joined-up approach to help the individual.  





Will a customer always know if they have a criminal conviction?


There is the possibility a customer may not be aware of what convictions are held against them, or what convictions of theirs are spent – this is especially true for those with multiple convictions dating back to their childhood. 


In some instances, seeking specialist support can be the best course of action. 


  • If an individual is not sure if they have a criminal conviction, they can make a Subject Access Request which will show the information held on them by the police. We recommend an individual seeks advice before making a Subject Access Request; we do not recommend a Work Coach gets involved with making the request and we explicitly request that the individual does not share their Subject Access Request with an employer. A SAR is for personal use only, is a useful tool for understanding what convictions they have had and is a good starting point to work out what is spent and unspent. A Subject Access Request is free.


Unlock have an easily accessible 7 stage process on criminal convictions. This can be a useful resource for both customers and work coaches.


We would advise a customer goes to two amazing charities; Unlock or Nacro to get assistance with this.  This information can be identified before the individual is subject to a disclosure to the potential employer. 


To work out if their offences are spent, they can use as a first step.


Another option is for the customer to request a basic disclosure certificate which will show any unspent convictions at the time the certificate is printed. This costs £23*and will be the same information an employer can see.  *As of 24th March 2021


If the employer is able to conduct a Standard or Enhanced DBS check as a part of the role (this should be outlined by the employer on the job advert or could be asked as part of the application process) this will also show any spent criminal convictions.


Call: 01634 247350 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm).
Message: Text or WhatsApp on 07824 113848.
Online: Webchat (visit website)
Write: theHelpline, Unlock, Maidstone Community Support Centre, 39-48 Marsham Street, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1HH
Deaf and speech impaired callers can access our helpline via the Relay UK Service. Textphone users should prefix their call with 18001.



Support and training for organisations and employers: Call: 0845 600 3194  |
Information and advice for ex-offenders, families and people working with them: Call: 0300 123 1999
Operating times: Mon-Thurs 9am-3pm, Fri 1pm – 5pm.

DBS certificates 


Understanding DBS certificates and what information is given on them is also an important tool for the quest to secure employment for those with criminal convictions. Especially because most Work Coaches will usually support customers with a blank DBS certificate/Basic Disclosure/NI disclosure. 


Some DBS certificates or the equivalent based on the jurisdiction can come back ‘blank’ with no recorded offences. This does not always mean that the individual has never had a criminal conviction, but it also means that if it is not on the disclosure, it does not need to be reported to the potential employer when asked unless it is for a regulated role. An example of why a conviction may not be on the disclosure is when a conviction is spent or filtered.


Unlock outline in a table the different kinds of criminal record checks and what convictions are disclosed on them. 


Unlock have detailed information on what is included/excluded on DBS certificates.

Why would a conviction not be on the disclosure though?  


  • This may happen as a certain number of months has passed since the conviction which means it becomes a ‘spent’ conviction as previously discussed.

  • It could be since the caution was given to the individual when they were a minor. 


These records are not erased from the policing database, but this measure was introduced to ensure past criminal convictions which are deemed no longer relevant to the individual’s participation in society can be ‘filtered out’ so they do not hinder the customer’s employment opportunities amongst other things going forward. 





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How to support customers with a criminal conviction.