Christopher is the co-director of Unlock, an independent award-winning charity that provides a voice and support for people who are facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record. He leads the charity’s policy and advocacy work, and oversees the charity’s activities, projects and communications, including work to support and challenge employers to change their recruitment policies and practices, work to prevent unlawful criminal record checks, influencing government policy and working on other policy issues including access to higher education. He is one of the country’s foremost experts on the criminal record disclosure regime and the long-term barriers of criminal records.
A full biography is below. Images to accompany biography are available here.
Contact details for Christopher are below.
Posts by Christopher
- This: Read his posts on this site
- Recruit!: Read his posts on our website for employers
- Information site: Read his updates on our information site
- theRecord: Read his articles on our online magazine, theRecord
- Blog: Read his posts on his personal blog.
Christopher is co-director of Unlock, an independent award-winning charity that provides a voice and support for people with convictions who are facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record.
Role and responsibilities
Christopher leads Unlock’s policy work, working with government and others in supporting and challenging the ways that criminal records are dealt with. This includes campaigns such as Ban the Box and being the media spokesperson for the charity.
Christopher is responsible for engagement with stakeholders at both operational and policy levels and working with other organisations, including delivering training practitioners and providing support to employers, universities and other organisations that deal with criminal records, encouraging the recruitment of people with criminal records through Unlock’s Fair Access to Employment.
Christopher is also responsible for the management of Unlock’s activities; this includes overseeing staff and volunteers that run the charity’s confidential peer-run helpline and other support for individuals.
Christopher was appointed Co-director of Unlock in 2013. He joined the charity in 2008.
Christopher is currently:
- the media spokesperson for Unlock
- a founding member and active promoter of the Ban the Box campaign
- a member of the Employers’ Forum for Reducing Reoffending
- a member of the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group
- a member of the editorial board of the Prison Service Journal
- a member of the international advisory board of the Probation Journal
- a founding member of the Wipe the Slate Clean campaign
- a member of the Criminal Justice Alliance
- a member of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice
- a member of the National Association for Youth Justice
During his time at Unlock, Christopher has:
- Been a member of the government’s Independent Advisory Panel on the Disclosure of Criminal Records, which led to a process of filtering for old/minor convictions being introduced.
- Contributed to national and regional press (including the Guardian, Independent, and Telegraph newspapers as well as the Huffington Post and Prospect magazine), national TV (including BBC Breakfast and ITV’s Good Morning Britain) and national radio (including BBC Radio 4 and BBC 5 Live)
- Been a trustee of two national charities:
- between November 2015 and November 2019, he was a trustee of the Helplines Partnership, the membership body for charities and organisations that provide helpline services in the UK and internationally
- between January 2018 and November 2020, he was a trustee of Clinks, the national infrastructure charity supporting the voluntary sector working in the criminal justice system
During his time at Unlock, he has:
- Led Unlock’s successful CrowdJustice campaign and legal intervention in a Supreme Court hearing on the disclosure of criminal records which led to changes in 2020 that meant thousands of people with old/minor criminal records no longer have to disclose them when applying for roles that involve higher-level DBS checks.
- Successfully campaigned for reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
- Co-founded the Ban the Box campaign.
- Worked with the DBS to co-publish guidance for individuals on criminal record checks.
- Led Unlock’s banking project, working with senior banking executives, government ministers and departments to develop access to basic bank accounts for people leaving prison, which he brought to its successful conclusion in 2014.
- Worked with the insurance industry to inform and advise on good practice.
- Worked with employers who have sought advice on employing people with convictions.
- Successfully challenged the government’s criminal record disclosure regime through supporting strategic litigation.
- Designed and delivered disclosure training courses for people who advise and support people with convictions as part of their work.
- Project-managed a number of key developments at Unlock, including establishing the charity’s helpline in 2007, launching a comprehensive self-help information site, developing an innovative disclosure tool, setting up an online forum and running an online magazine.
Awards and recognition
- Accepted the Criminal Justice Alliance’s ‘‘Outstanding national organisation’ award on behalf of Unlock (2020)
- Winner of the High Sheriff of Kent Award (2016)
- Accepted the Longford Price on behalf of Unlock (2016)
- Highly commended in the Social CEOs awards as best senior leader (2016)
- Winner of “Best innovative use of technology” at the Helpline Awards (2014)
- A Winston Churchill Fellow (2014)
True to Unlock being a peer-run charity, Christopher has a criminal record; in 2006 he was convicted of theft offences and received a suspended prison sentence. He wrote about this in a blog, “5 years on from conviction…” and he spoke about his experience for an article in the Metro.
Prior to joining the charity, Christopher graduated from the University of Hull in 2007, gaining a 2.1 in LLB Law, and followed this by completing an LLM masters in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Leeds, graduating in September 2008 with a merit.