What we do

Unlock is an independent, award-winning charity for people with convictions which exists for two simple reasons.

Firstly, we assist people to move on positively with their lives by empowering them with information, advice and support to overcome the stigma of their previous convictions.

Secondly, we seek to promote a fairer and more inclusive society by challenging discriminatory practices and promoting socially just alternatives.

What does this mean in practice?

Worried about your criminal record? We provide advice & support.

Support us

There are over 10.5 million people in the UK with a criminal record. Unlock helps people overcome past difficulties and move forward with hope to make a positive contribution to society. There are a number of ways to support us. HELP US NOW! Thank you.

Donate Online

#givingtuesday is over for this year. If you didn't get round to making a donation - don't worry, we'll accept a Christmas-inspired contribution any time!

In the news

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News at Unlock

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Project: Fair Access to Employment

With this project, we're both supporting and challenging employers. We're encouraging employers to recruit people with convictions and deal with criminal records fairly. We're also challenging discrimination.
See how you can help us

Help us with our policy and campaign work

We're looking for evidence to support key policy issues we're working on, including employers that carry out ineligible checks, and the 'google effect'. There are other ways to help too, including writing to your MP and becoming a Friend of Unlock.
Find out more about our training courses

Criminal record disclosure training for practitioners

We deliver 'criminal record disclosure' training as open courses and in-house sessions to help front-line practitioners provide accurate, effective advice. Training dates available for 2017.

How we help


We run a number of websites, as well as a helpline, as part of our work...
Visit the information site
The country's most comprehensive source of practical self-help information for people with convictions on a wide range of issues that criminal convictions can affect
Visit the disclosure calculator
An online tool that works out when your convictions are spent and so don't need to be disclosed to most employers and insurers
Visit theRecord
The online magazine for law-abiding people with convictions - share news, views and personal stories about life with a conviction
Find out more about our helpline
We give confidential peer advice by telephone, email and other ways. We focus on helping people overcome the effects of their criminal record.
Visit the online forum
A self-supporting community for law-abiding people with convictions - share information, advice and experience on moving on with a criminal record.
Visit Recruit!, our website for employers
There's a talent pool of over 10.5 million people that you might be overlooking. People with criminal records make good employees. Make sure you're not missing out. Recruit! is a website from Unlock that supports UK employers to recruit people with convictions and helps them to deal with criminal records fairly.

Feedback on our work

What people have said about us

  • Your helpline is doing a truly wonderful job in helping people like me who have made a mistake, paid the price, but do not want to be penalised for the rest of their lives.
    Person with convictions // Client of our helpline
  • The forum is a great idea. We all have a story to tell and it’s good to be able to chat to people that in many respects have had similar experiences, especially in terms of trying to find a job.
    Person with convictions // Member of our forum
  • I look forward to receiving your emails, news and updates.They are so useful. The fact that nobody else does this kind of thing makes it so important.
    Person with convictions // Subscriber to our e-updates
  • I am tired of running away from my past. Unlock has been a critical first step in this process. You have provided me with clear, unambiguous guidance. As far as I am aware you are the only body/charity/website that offers the type of detail that is necessary for me to go forward.
    Person with convictions
  • I would like to congratulate Unlock on achieving what some previously considered impossible. I hope that the hard work of Unlock will continue and that through that work, together we can remove some of the unnecessary obstacles faced by offenders who want to lead normal, law abiding lives.
    Lord McNally, Minister of State for Justice // Speaking at the launch of our Disclosure Calculator
  • Thank you for all the help you have provided me to advance my Private Members Bill. The Government has accepted a good many recommendations contained in my Bill. I want you to know how much I appreciated your contribution.
    The Rt Hon The Lord Dholakia // Commenting on reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
  • When I first got in touch with you I was very low, but you gave me the emotional support and encouragement I needed. I had felt very isolated but knowing that someone else was there who knew what I was going through kept me going. I don’t know if I’d be here today if it wasn’t for Unlock.
    Person with convictions // Client of our helpline
  • I could not believe it when I found your website this evening. I am nearly in tears... I feel absolutely fantastic, more than that, it’s like being reborn.
    Person with convictions // User of our website
  • The new DBS site leaves a lot to be desired in terms of info. Yours is much clearer and more helpful.
    Person with convictions // User of our online Information Hub
  • The disclosure training provided by Unlock is engaging and comprehensive. We held a REACH staff event to look specifically at the changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and staff who attended commented how useful the day had been. Whilst the principles around disclosure are a core part of any service that assists people with convictions into employment, some of the legal aspects are quite complex and I would recommend anyone who works in this field to think about completing the Unlock training to ensure they are fully up to date. This training would also be very useful for employers who wanted to inform their recruitment policies and procedures.
    Carrie Peters, Director of REACH // Commenting on training provided to project workers who support people with convictions in finding sustainable employment
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