What we doUnlock is an independent award-winning national charity that provides a voice and support for people with convictions who are facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record, often long after they have served their sentence.
Firstly, we help 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 usThere are over 11 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.
In the newsVIEW ALL -
- From today, the 17th January 2018, basic criminal record checks can now be obtained directly fr...
- Changes to the ‘automatic disqualification’ rules that affect who can run a charity, and partic...
- With the disclosure of old and irrelevant criminal records in the spotlight, Christopher Stacey...
- Three-quarters of a million criminal records that are more than a decade old are being revealed...
News at UnlockVIEW ALL -
- Unlock is delighted to publish the Unlock Annu...
- Today we’ve published our winter 2017/18 newsletter. The newsletter provides an update of...
- We’ve just published our update for December 2017. &nb...
- With the Christmas break almost upon us and 2017 coming to an end, it’s a good time to reflect ...
Find out more about fair access to employment
Fair access to employmentWith this work, 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 in our policy and campaign work
Help us with our policy and campaign workWe'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 donating to us.
Find out more about our training courses
Criminal record disclosure training for practitionersWe deliver 'criminal record disclosure' training as open courses and in-house sessions to help front-line practitioners provide accurate, effective advice. Dates now available for 2018
Visit the information siteThe 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 calculatorAn online tool that works out when your convictions are spent and so don't need to be disclosed to most employers and insurers
Visit the online magazineThe online magazine for law-abiding people with convictions - share news, views and personal stories about life with a conviction
Find out more about our helplineWe 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 forumA 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 employersThere'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.
Recent developmentsVIEW ALL -
- 22/01/2018in News @ UnlockUnlock is delighted to publish the Unlock Annual Report 2016/2017 which describes our impact including: feedback from people we have helped: “changed my life actually“, “you have given me hope“, “you are making a very positive contribution to the goal of rehabilitating o...
- From today, the 17th January 2018, basic criminal record checks can now be obtained directly from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) This is a significant development for both people with criminal records and employers in England & Wales. Basic checks are a type of criminal record check that can be used by employers and...
- Changes to the ‘automatic disqualification’ rules that affect who can run a charity, and particularly people with criminal records, will come into force on 1st August 2018. The current rules only apply to trustees. People with unspent convictions for certain offences, including dishonesty and deception offences, need to be granted a waiver from the...
- 10/01/2018in Case work, Helpline, News & Media, News on Unlock's work for individuals, Support case studiesLooking back over the last couple of months, we’ve written up a few examples of the people we’ve helped. We hope they give a good idea of how we help people. However, more importantly than our role, we think that these examples show how people with convictions are able to overcome some of the barriers...
- Today we’ve published our winter 2017/18 newsletter. The newsletter provides an update of the news at Unlock in the last three months. It’s sent to everyone who’s on our public mailing list, and we hope it’s a useful way of keeping up to date with what we’ve been up to. Read: Winter 2017/18 Newsletter Previous newsletters...
- We’ve just published our update for December 2017. This months update includes: An advice post which sets out the new discretionary powers given to the police by the Home Office for dealing with ‘sexting’ offences. A personal story in which an individual with a criminal record tells how he...
- With the Christmas break almost upon us and 2017 coming to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on the last 12 months work of the charity and the developments relating to criminal records. Once again it’s been an incredibly busy year for Unlock, with lots of positive news and progress to report. We’ve...
- 06/12/2017in Employment, Employment discrimination, Employment support, Ineligible checks, Latest, News & Media, News for employers, Projects, Stop ineligible checks, Way DBS workWith the disclosure of old and irrelevant criminal records in the spotlight, Christopher Stacey looks at how the system is unfairly holding people back Over four million jobs every year involve employers requesting an enhanced criminal record from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Although these were originally for roles that involve close ...
- 06/12/2017in Employment discrimination, Latest, News & Media, Stop ineligible checks, Unlocking Experience, Way DBS work, What DBS discloseThree-quarters of a million criminal records that are more than a decade old are being revealed to employers on DBS checks each year. That’s one of the findings of a new briefing published by the Centre for Criminal and Justice Studies (CCJS). The research, which we have supported, was featured in The Observer on Sunday...
- We’ve just published our update for November 2017. This months update includes: New information on the implications of accepting a police caution A call-out to anybody with a criminal record who has experienced difficulties in joining the update service with a manual DBS certificate A personal story w...
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