A COMMUNITY arts scheme based in Thirsk has pledged to give former criminals a fair chance at getting a job.

Rural Arts has signed up to the national Business in the Community 'Ban the Box' campaign which aims to create a fair chance for ex-offenders to compete for jobs and bring down the £15 billion a year cost of reoffending.

It calls on UK employers to remove the tick box from application forms and asking about criminal convictions later in the recruitment process.

Max May, CEO of Rural Arts said it was about removing stigma: “At Rural Arts, we provide opportunities for everyone to participate in creativity," he said.

"The same should be said for participating in employment.

"Everyone makes mistakes and some past convictions will prove no relevance as to whether or not you’d make a great addition to our team." He added that "robust referencing processes" will still be carried out along with Disclosure and Barring Service checks when required.