Have you been unfairly treated because of your criminal record?
- Been refused an ordinary* job because of spent convictions
- Been refused a regulated role* because of old/minor convictions/cautions that are now filtered
- Had an employer carry out an unlawful check on you?
- Been wrongly dismissed from your job because of your record?
- Been refused insurance because of convictions that are spent?
- Not been paid out on an insurance claim due to non-disclosure?
We take on cases of people with convictions who have been treated unfairly because of their criminal record.
If you’re having a problem that’s listed above, or you’ve been unfairly treated in some other way due to your criminal record, we might be able to help.
* This is referring to whether a position is covered (or exempt) from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
There are some situations where it’s possible for us to intervene and provide individual support to somebody treated unfairly because of a conviction. This is what we refer to as ‘case work’.
However, due to our limited resources, we cannot guarantee to be able to provide support in all cases. We will assess each case on its own merits. Where we’re unable to help, we’ll always try our best to point you in the right direction of people who can.
What do we do?
Through this work, our aim is to help you challenge and overcome unfair discriminatory treatment that you are facing because of your criminal record.
We do this by acting on your behalf in a specific situation that you’re facing.
We have to choose our cases carefully – we can’t help in all. Normally, we’ll look to take on those cases where there is a realistic chance of our intervention making a difference. We also look at whether there may be a wider impact that benefits people with convictions more generally.
Cases we’ve dealt with
We write up anonymous case studies of the ones we’ve worked on. These can be found at the bottom of this page or clicking here.
Latest on twitter
We raise awareness of the cases we’ve worked on using the hashtag #unlockcasework. Some of the latest ones are displayed below:
Why should you speak to us?
We take the following approach to our case work:
Confidential – You can trust us. We won’t share your details with any third-party without your consent.
Independent – We do not deliver government-contracted services. That means we’re able to hold Government, its agencies and others to account without fear of losing our funding.
Non-judgemental – We’re on your side. We are proactive in tackling all forms of inequality, discrimination and social exclusion that people face as a result of their criminal record. This work does not discriminate on the basis of type of conviction.
Honest – We’ll give you a realistic view on your situation once we’ve had a chance to review your case in full. If we don’t think there’s much we can do to help, we’ll tell you that.
Constructive – We try to be practical. We won’t bamboozle you with acronyms or legal-speak.
Empowering – We support self-advocacy and empowerment. You will have a say in the level of involvement and style of support you receive. Ultimately, you remain in control, not us.
When should you get in touch?
If you’re facing a problem like the ones listed above, it’s important you get in touch as soon as possible.
In some cases it is too late for us to help, so if you think you might need our help, please get in touch and we’ll let you know where you stand.
What can we do to help?
We support a number of people each year who have been unfairly treated as a result of their criminal record.
The type of support depends on the individual case, but can often include:
- Writing letters on your behalf
- Speaking directly to an employer, colleges or regulatory bodies themselves
- Representing you at a disciplinary hearing
- Acting as a lay advocate in hearings
- Being a McKenzie friend (assisting you in court by providing advice and support)
Our support is provided for free. As a result, we are limited in the number of people we can help.
If we’re unable to support your case, you might still be able to get information & advice through our self-help information site and our helpline. We’ll also try to point you to other services that might be able to help.
Our case work is different to providing legal advice. We are unable to provide legal advice or legal representation. However, we work closely with solicitors and barristers who we can refer legal cases to where we’re unable to assist and we think they can.
Wherever we think a referral to others might be needed, we will always seek your permission to do so first.
How to raise a case with us
Cases will nearly always start with an enquiry through our Helpline.
Alternatively, if you want to put yourself forward for specific support, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details:
- Your name
- Your contact details (e.g. telephone & email)
- Your criminal record
- The problem you’re having
- How you have tried to resolve the problem so far
- What support you are looking for
- Whether you have a solicitor, barrister or other legal advisor assisting with this issue? Or have you had one dealing with this in the past?
- Whether you have contacted any other organisations for assistance with this problem? If yes, which ones, and what was their response?
- Whether you have you spoken to our helpline about this problem? If yes, when?
How we assess cases
We look at each case on its merits and consider the following:
- What is the issue? Is it an area that we deal with?
- What is the goal? Is it achievable?
- Is Unlock the right organisation to advocate on your behalf?
If we’re able to help, we will let you know how. If we can’t help, we’ll try our best to suggest who else might be able to.
What are the possible outcomes?
In most cases, we will be trying to help you achieve a positive outcome.
However, in some cases, a positive outcome for you personally might be unlikely, but there may be a chance to prompt change which is for the greater good.
From the start, we will make it clear what we think the possible outcomes are, so that you are fully informed.
Cases we've dealt withVIEW ALL -
- 04/01/2019in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Clive – A potentially ineligible criminal record check led to the DBS considering barring me from working with children and vulnerable adultsClive contacted our helpline for some advice after he’d received a letter from the Disclosure and Barring Service stating that they were considering putting him on one or both barred lists. The DBS believed that he was going to be working in regulated activity and, due to his previous conviction, needed to carry out an investigation....
- 04/05/2018in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Dennis – How challenging an ineligible check with an employer can lead to changes in their policy and the correct criminal record checks being conductedAndy contacted our helpline after his employer informed him that they intended carrying out an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check for his job as a driver for an out of hours doctors service. Before the check was submitted, Dennis had disclosed details of his criminal record and had been suspended by his employer....
- 05/04/2018in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Kelly – Having an insurance policy cancelled due to a comparison company not providing full disclosureKelly contacted our helpline after she’d had her insurance policy cancelled due to the non-disclosure of her partner’s criminal record. Kelly explained that she’d used a comparison website to get insurance quotes for a new van that she’d recently purchased. After disclosing her partner’s unspent conviction, she had bee...
- 05/04/2018in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Andy – Having an application for social housing refused on the basis of spent convictionsAndy contacted our helpline after his application for social housing was declined on the basis of his ‘previous criminal convictions‘. Andy explained that he had three previous convictions but these were all spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act at the time he’d made his housing application. As he’d applied for sup...
- 10/10/2017in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Penny – Potential barring after an ineligible DBS check and a 33-year old historic ‘love bite’Penny contacted our helpline for some advice after her employers, a local council, had requested an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check for a new role in a different department which Penny believed would only be eligible for a basic check. Her job involved dealing with complaints from local residents relating to environmental issues and...