The scale of the problem…

  • One in three men, and almost one in ten women, receive a conviction by the age of 53
  • There are more than ten million people in the UK with a criminal record.
  • However, just 335,000 of these are inside the criminal justice system (in prison or on probation).
  • The majority of our clients have moved beyond the system, only to discover that the end of a sentence is the beginning of a life with a criminal record. Many start to feel hopeless, even suicidal, and the criminal community will always welcome them back.


…and why we are needed

  • The majority of the people we help are no longer subject to the criminal justice system
  • Other statutory agencies regularly fail to properly recognise the specific issues are faced by people who are trying to rebuild their lives
  • Many fundamental aspects of life continue to be negatively affected by having a conviction, such as employment, accommodation, education, personal finances, travel, relationships and mental health.

And it’s an expensive waste of lives and resources.

  • Re-offending costs taxpayers £13 billion per year
  • 26% of the 4.9 million claimants of out of work benefits are people with criminal records.


Every year;

  • Hundreds of thousands of people access our self-help information online, which has the most comprehensive source of practical information for people with convictions in the country
  • Thousands of people are assisted personally by phone, email and letter through our Helpline
  • Thousands of people receive our electronic news and information updates
  • Tens of thousands of people use our online Disclosure Calculator tool to check out their duty to disclose under current law


Key points about our work

  • We are acknowledged and regularly consulted as the subject matter expert on the impact of a criminal record
  • Information, advice and advocacy for the benefit of people with convictions is Unlock’s core activity
  • Many of Unlock’s enquiries are referrals from prisons, probation service, charities and private sector organisations. People often arrive at Unlock because they have failed to get adequate responses from the major services that are aimed at supporting people with convictions
  • Our support is delivered by passionate, professionally trained, people with convictions.
  • Beneficiaries are involved at all levels, from governance through design to delivery. People with convictions make up 50% (min) of the trustee board and provide all our information and advice.
  • Unlock acts at both the individual and systemic level. We work primarily with individuals with criminal convictions and their families. We also work with intermediaries such as employers, policy makers and government agencies whose policies, rules, processes, cultures and attitudes affect people with convictions.
  • Unlock makes a large social impact with a small team through technological innovation, volunteering and working collaboratively – the average cost per beneficiary is approximately £1.24.
  • Unlock is a charity with a solid track record of achievements, solving long-term, complex, systemic issues


Some of our key achievements

Find out more about some of our key achievements here.

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