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 -
- 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...
- Following the release of the Justice Committee report...
Press release – Criminal records regime is failing children and young people and anchoring them to their past for decadesUnlock responds to Justice Committee report into disclosure of youth criminal records In respon...
News at UnlockVIEW ALL -
- We’ve just published our update for November 2017. &nb...
- Our popular ‘criminal record disclosure’ training workshops continue. We are now ta...
- We’ve just published our update for October 2017. &nbs...
- Unlock’s Co-director, Julie Harmsworth, was delighted to speak at a celebration hosted by The H...
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 -
- 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 ...
- 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...
- Our popular ‘criminal record disclosure’ training workshops continue. We are now taking bookings for our ‘Advising with Conviction’ workshops which will take place on selected dates in 2018 As experts on criminal record disclosure, we provide high-quality training to front-line practitioners to ensure that they have accurate...
- We’ve just published our update for October 2017. This months update includes: Updated information on the eligibility or standard and enhanced checks A call-out to anybody with a criminal record who has been through the experience of applying to become a trustee A personal story which highlights how m...
- 31/10/2017in Childhood criminal records, Employment discrimination, Latest, News & Media, Press releases and comment, Unlock in the mediaFollowing the release of the Justice Committee report into disclosure of youth criminal records, The Independent published a letter from Unlock’s Co-director, Christopher Stacey. In his letter Christopher, who gave evidence to the Committee, wrote:- “Thousands of people contact ex-offenders cha...
- 27/10/2017in Childhood criminal records, Employment discrimination, Latest, News & Media, Press releases and comment, State use of criminal records, Unlocking Experience, Way ROA works, What basics disclose, What DBS disclose
Press release – Criminal records regime is failing children and young people and anchoring them to their past for decadesUnlock responds to Justice Committee report into disclosure of youth criminal records In response to today’s Justice Committee report into the disclosure of youth criminal records, Unlock, a leading independent charity for people with convictions, is calling on the government to drop its legal appeal and get on with reforming the criminal records r...
- 17/10/2017in News @ UnlockUnlock’s Co-director, Julie Harmsworth, was delighted to speak at a celebration hosted by The High Sheriff of Kent, George Jessel. Working in partnership with Kent Community Foundation (KCF), the High Sheriff welcomed over 80 charities to the ‘Causes that Matter’ event to say thank you to the voluntary sector in Kent for all the wonderf...
- Today we’ve published our autumn 2017 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: Autumn 2017 Newsletter Previous newsletters...
- 10/10/2017in 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...
- We’ve just published our update for September 2017. This months update includes: New information on applying for a taxi licence An update to our page on challenging an ineligible Disclosure and Barring Service check A personal story on getting a job working for the NHS following a caution for...
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