Sexual offending and barriers to employability: public perceptions of who to hire

Cody Porter, Laura Haggar, Adam Harvey

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Employment can reduce reoffending, yet many employers refrain from hiring candidates with prior convictions, particularly for sexual offences. This study explored employability ratings before and after a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check for a public facing job. The DBS check revealed either (i) rape, (ii) sexual activity with a child, (iii) possession of indecent photographs of children, or (iv) no criminal conviction. We measured ratings of trustworthiness, company value, and role suitability before and after the disclosure. Participants were then invited to keep or reject the candidate. As predicted, individuals with a prior sexual offence were perceived as less trustworthy, valuable, or suitable for employment. Those with contact offences (sexual activity with a child 80%, rape, 57%) received higher rejections than those with possession of photographs of children convictions (49%). Participants provided qualitative responses for their decision making. This data indicates directions for future research for enhancing employment opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Psychology
Early online date10 Nov 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 10 Nov 2022


  • sexual offending
  • employability
  • reoffending
  • rehabilitation


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