Changes to filtering rules November 2020: What you need to know

This page brings together everything related to the changes to the filtering rules that were announced by the government in July 2020, and are in effect as of 28 November 2020, following a Supreme Court ruling and our campaigning work over many years.

The filtering rules establish which convictions and cautions no longer show up on standard and enhanced criminal record checks issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in England and Wales.

After many months of holding the government to account on the implementation of these changes, the news was confirmed in a letter to Unlock from the Home Office on 18 November. These changes represent a significant step forward for the criminal records system; the government’s own analysis shows that around 45,000 people will benefit.

In the below video shared on the day the changes took effect, Unlock Co-director Christopher Stacey outlines the changes and how we got to this point:

You can:

Find out more about our work on the DBS filtering process here

Information for people with criminal records

Use the flowchart below to determine whether your conviction/caution will be filtered under the new rules:

Information for employers

Read our post on Recruit! to make sure you’re asking the right questions in recruitment.

Positive stories

The government’s own analysis indicates that the changes to filtering will benefit around 45,000 people a year, who will now have clear standard and enhanced DBS checks. However, we know that many people are put off applying for jobs in the first place, because of the stigma they will face – so the true number will be even higher. Here are some of the people we’ve heard from who can now pursue the career they want, free from stigma:

“I will be forever grateful to Unlock for helping me. I cannot believe that from next week I will be able to apply for teaching jobs without the worry of dragging up my childhood traumas.”


“I currently work in the security industry and every three years that I would apply for my licence I would be reminded  of my criminal convictions that occurred 17 years ago”


“The news that the multiple convictions [rule] has been lifted is such a lifeline for me. I can now do lots of voluntary work, sharing my skill set with those in difficult times and hopefully make a positive contribution to society. I can hold my head high and I thank the Unlock team from the bottom of my heart for helping make this possible”

Support the need for wider reform?

These changes are positive but limited. We believe there needs to be a root and branch review of the criminal records disclosure system. The #FairChecks movement is calling for the government to launch a major review of the legislation on the disclosure of criminal records to reduce the length of time a record is revealed.








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