“Excellent training session – one of the most useful I’ve done in my 25 year career. Everyone who helps and gives advice to people with criminal records should do this – it should be mandatory”

JobCentre Plus Adviser

  • Are you up to date with the laws around disclosing criminal records?
  • The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act changed in 2014 for the first time in 40 years.
  • The DBS now has a system for ‘filtering’ cautions and convictions
  • Do you feel confident in advising your clients on whether they need to disclose, and if they do, how to do so?
  • Giving accurate and good quality advice to people with convictions will help increase their chances of finding and keeping a job!

“According to a Government report, only 29% of prison leavers received advice on dealing with their criminal record from the Work Programme”

On this page:

Please note – This page explains our training for those that advise and support people with convictions. Find out about other training we can provide.

Upcoming open criminal record disclosure training dates for front-line practitioners

Please note: We are currently delivering all our training remotely online as a result of Covid-19. We expect this to be the case until the end of 2020 at the earliest. We are continuing to run our open ‘Advising with Conviction’ course which individual places can be booked on to. We are also continuing to take bookings for our in-house training for organisations that are looking to run training for groups of staff, as well as running webinars.


Criminal records webinar – Two-hour webinar  SOLD OUT
Wednesday 16th September
Online | 1.45pm-4pm | £59 – Book your place here


Criminal records webinar – Two-hour webinar
Wednesday 21st October
Online | 1.45pm-4pm | £59 – Book your place here


Advising with Conviction – Full-day training workshop – Online event 
Wednesday 25th November 2020
Online| 9.30am – 4.00pm | From £139 per person – Book your place here


Further dates will be made available on an ongoing basis. To receive details of future sessions, sign up to receive our email updates and select to receive ‘news/updates for front-line practitioners’, or you can email your details to admin@unlock.org.uk and we’ll let you know when new dates become available.

Want to arrange your own date? Contact us to run an in-house training workshop.

Running in-house training

If you’ve got a couple of colleagues that also need training, it may be more cost effective for us to come to you. We run in-house training workshops precisely for this reason.


Our training is designed to equip practitioners with expert, accurate and up-to-date knowledge. We run a range to suit all needs.

As well as this page, you may want to:

Latest news

Latest news on our training can be found here (or see towards the bottom of this page).

You can also find below the latest from Twitter, using the hashtag #unlockdisclosuretraining (although we cannot endorse what gets displayed).

Why choose us?

We are the leading charity in England & Wales on understanding criminal record checking processes and their impact on people with criminal convictions. We work closely with the Ministry of Justice, Home Office, Disclosure & Barring Service and Disclosure Scotland.

We are the go-to place for advice from charities, resettlement service providers, probation staff and others who are looking for advice on behalf of their clients.

Find out more and why and how we support practitioners.

Our training courses are endorsed by the Probation Institute.

Our full-day ‘Advising with Conviction’ workshop is endorsed by the Institute of Employability Professionals.

Who it’s for

  • People who are providing information, advice and support to people with convictions – past attendees have included prison resettlement teams, probation officers, CAB advisors and charities that provide support in the community
  • Services that are providing employment-focused support to people with convictions – past attendees have included careers advisors, JobCentre Plus workers, Work Programme providers and Probation-based employment projects

If you’re an employer, you can find out about how we support employers.

The types of criminal record disclosure training we provide

Two-day course

£279per person (from)

One-day workshop

£139per person (from)

Four hour masterclass

£109per person (from)

‘Supporting with Conviction’ 2-day training course (In-house only)

Objective – “To be confident in providing accurate and effective advice and support to people with convictions by having a good understanding and awareness of if, what, when and how they should disclose their criminal record”

What is it?

‘Supporting with Conviction’ is our two-day training course, designed as a comprehensive training package covering all important areas of criminal record disclosure as it relates to people with a criminal record.

Split over two days, the course allows plenty of time for discussion and practical exercises. It also allows for attendees to reflect on the complexities of the law around disclosure (covered in the first day)

Who’s it for?

The core audience is specialist practitioners, such as those working in client-facing roles in probation, Community Rehabilitation Companies and on the NOMS CFO programme, as well as leads within Job Centres and Work Programme providers.

The primary focus of the workshop is in supporting practitioners who are either advising or supporting people with convictions into employment, volunteering and education.

What does it cover?

The course covers the following areas in detail:

Day One

  1. About Unlock / Why is this important?
  2. Criminal records
    1. Background to criminal records and police systems
    2. Types of criminal record checks and what they disclose
    3. ‘Knowing your record’ – How clients can find out about their criminal record
  3. Applying for work – what you might (and don’t) need to disclose
    1. Establishing what’s ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
      1. Working it out for yourself
      2. Using disclosurecalculator.org.uk
    2. Establishing what’s disclosed on standard and enhanced DBS checks
      1. Working out what’s filtered
    3. Challenging ineligible checks
  4. Legally, need to disclose?

Day two

  1. Reflections on day one – Recap, questions and specific examples
  2. To disclose or not to disclose?
  3. When & how to disclose?
  4. Self-disclosure statements
  5. Example clients – What would you advise?
  6. Looking for friendly employers
  7. Criminal records and other areas of life; insurance, housing, travel etc | Top 10 things to know
  8. Understanding who can help and how | Who else can help?
  9. Action plan
  10. Questions and feedback

Interested in booking this course for your organisation?

Contact us for more information about this course.

‘Advising with Conviction’ 1-day workshop (In-house and open sessions)

Objective – “To be more confident in providing accurate and effective advice and support to people with convictions on if, what, when and how to disclose”

What is it?

‘Advising with Conviction’ is a full-day workshop (usually running 9.30am to 5.00pm) designed to provide front-line practitioners and advisors with a well-rounded knowledge of how to support individuals with their criminal records and disclosing them to others.

This workshop is endorsed by the Probation Institute and endorsed by the Institute of Employability Professionals.

Who’s it for?

Supporting practitioners who are either advising or supporting people with convictions into employment, volunteering and education.

What does it cover? 

It provides an overview of the following areas (these can be tailored when delivered in-house)

  1. About Unlock / Why is this important?
  2. Types of criminal record checks and what they disclose
  3. Understanding criminal records
    1. How clients can find out about their criminal record
    2. Establishing what’s ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
    3. Establishing what’s ‘filtered’ from standard and enhanced DBS checks
  4. Legally, need to disclose?
  5. To disclose or not to disclose?
  6. When & how to disclose? [in brief]
  7. The role of self-disclosure statements [in brief]


Dates for when this workshop is running as an open session can be found above. It can also be delivered in-house (where it can be tailored to specific audiences).

Contact us for more information about this workshop.

4-hour masterclasses (In-house only)

What is it?

Our 4-hour masterclasses focus on particular subjects, and look at these in considerable depth from a technical perspective.

Who’s it for?

They are normally used by practitioners and advisors who have already have a good sound knowledge of the areas covered in the ‘Advising with conviction’ workshops and are looking for more in-depth knowledge in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act or the Disclosure & Barring Services, due to the nature of their role.

What does it cover?

We currently have three masterclasses available (they can be tailored when delivered in-house)

  1. Rehabilitation of Offenders Act – Working out when convictions and cautions become ‘spent’ / What comes back on basic disclosures
  2. Disclosure & Barring Service – Working out when convictions and cautions might be ‘filtered’ / What comes back on standard and enhanced checks / Barring
  3. Criminal record checks and disclosure – An overview of the law and practice of how criminal records are used, particularly in an employment context through criminal record checks


Two masterclasses can be combined together to deliver a full-day workshop.

Contact us for more information about these masterclasses.

‘In-house’ and ‘open’ sessions

We run our training and workshops ‘in-house‘, where host organisations organise them for their staff. We also run them for infrastructure organisations that bring together their members. This can be a cost-effective way of running training, and is tailored to your needs. Find out more about here.

We also organise and host regular ‘open’ sessions. These take place in various places, and enable smaller organisations and individual practitioners to attend. In the past, we’ve held them in London, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff. Our next bookable sessions are at the top of this page.

Quality standards

We stake our reputation on providing high-quality, accurate and engaging training.

Our training is endorsed by the Probation Institute.

Our training is endorsed by the Institute of Employability Professionals.

Feedback – What others have said

All attendees are asked to leave anonymous feedback at the end of the session. Some of the comments we’ve received include:

“It was really useful to have the time and opportunity to look through these issues in detail. I needed this training 5 years ago when I first started this job. I hate to think how much I have got this wrong in the past, and what impact that might have had on the people I’ve been trying to help”

Employment support worker

“I always thought that using a disclosure letter was the best way to disclose. I’ve had my eyes open to the various ways, and that it needs to be a case-by-case decision. I feel better able to support people in making these decisions now”

Probation officer

“Now I have a good understanding as to the changes of the ROA as well as other things to think about when supporting my clients with their disclosure. Really good trainer with a relaxed approach but stayed on track the whole session”

Resettlement practitioner

“The disclosure training provided by Unlock is engaging and comprehensive. 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”

Carrie Peters, Director of REACH, an employment-support project for people with convictions

“I have to say I was bowled over by the masterclass, I figured it would be useful but I had no idea that it would be as informative and as useful as it was, there are some fabulous tools that we had no idea about and the changes to the ROA will have an impact on our customers without a doubt and it will give our frontline staff confidence to know what to do when people with criminal records don’t know themselves what is going on with their record. Massively helpful, and I will champion the course to anyone that will listen.”

Work Programme Prime Provider

“We needed guidance on the new DBS system and how we can develop and improve our process. The session was good because I had the ability to ask questions and explore incidents/experiences in my professional practice”

University Admissions programme manager

Feedback – A snapshop

Over an 18 month period we analysed the feedback received from attendees of our training workshops and masterclasses.

The content of these sessions varied, but broadly looked at the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, types of criminal record checks, and issues surrounding disclosure.

Out of 191 participants who attended a total of 18 sessions :

  • 93% rated the content as excellent or good
  • 97% rated the structure as excellent or good
  • 100% rated the trainer as excellent or good
  • 100% rated the quality of the material presented and information available to take away as excellent or good

In terms of raising awareness and increasing knowledge, on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is no awareness, attendees reported that:

  • Their awareness of Unlock and the work that we do had increased from an average score of 4 before to 9 after.
  • Their knowledge of the subject matter increased from an average of 5 before to 8 after.

Some of the anonymous comments that were made as part of the feedback:

  • It was a great opportunity to focus on something that I deal with every day but never get time to learn properly.
  • Enthusiastic and knowledgeable tutor. Information presented in a clear and concise manner.
  • The trainer was very knowledgeable and encouraged audience participation
  • Lots of info about complex issues – very easy to digest – really helpful.
  • I work with offenders/ex-offenders/prisoners. They are constantly asking about their convictions and now I know. Thank you!
  • Information presented was interactive and very useful.
  • Very little access to training (relevant training) for 3rd sector practitioners. This was perfect.
  • Excellent trainer. Well structured presentation. Very informative and made a very complex subject understandable. Thank you 🙂
  • Very welcoming and easy, comfortable, friendly and informal etc.
  • Good engaging presentation with plenty of scope to widen discussion. Good course materials.
  • Really informative and I now understand how to calculate rehabilitation periods accurately. I’d also never heard about filtering until today. Great trainer!
  • I work with our Peer Advisor/volunteers and have to support them with their disclosure. I also run employability sessions with them which include a little about disclosure. This will hugely help me!
  • I work in prison every day. New learning will help me and the clients I work with.
  • The trainer was able to pass the general message of the session in a surprisingly pain-free way.
  • Really useful to be able to ask questions.
  • Because it’s hugely relevant to everyone we work with.
  • All Offender Managers need this training.
  • Should be mandatory to all practitioners.

How our training courses run

All our training courses and workshops involve active participation. Groups are kept intentionally small, with a focus on involving all attendees in a range of practical exercises and a mixture of delivery styles to ensure that the sessions are interesting, engaging and ultimately effective.

Who delivers them?

Training workshops and masterclasses are delivered by Christopher Stacey, Co-director.

Christopher is recognised as one of the experts in the field of criminal records and disclosure. He was a member of the Home Office’s Independent Advisory Panel of the Disclosure of Criminal Records which provided policy recommendations to Government between 2009 and 2011, and he led the development of www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk which was launched in October 2011. He is also the author of ‘Unlocking Criminal Record Checks’ (published September 2013), which is a comprehensive guide produced in partnership with the Disclosure & Barring Service for people with criminal records.

What you get to take away

For all types of training, all attendees will receive handouts during the session, copies of the slides after the session by email, and copies of any relevant materials that we have published on the specific subjects that we’re covering. This might include copies of posters and guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, and general materials about Unlock.

How does the course, workshop and masterclass differ?


The workshop lasts one full day, whereas the masterclasses last 4 hours. The two-day training course is designed to be taken at a slower pace, and going into the areas in significantly more detail, with a particular focus on when and how to disclose, allowing plenty of time for discussion and practical exercises. It was developed in response to feedback that the one-day workshop needed more detail in parts, and more time spent on key areas.


  • Two-day training courses are designed to be a comprehensive training package covering all important areas of criminal record disclosure.
  • One-day workshops mostly focus on the legal questions surrounding disclosure, as well as briefly covering the practicalities of disclosure.
  • Masterclasses have a particular focus – whether that be the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, Disclosure & Barring Service or an overview of criminal records and disclosure.

Knowledge level

Full-day workshops are suited to those that are being trained on this issue for the first time and are looking for a broad understanding of the key areas. For specialist practitioners, the two-day course is better suited, whereas the masterclasses are designed for practitioners with a particular niche focus.

What happens after the training?

Once trained, attendees can receive tailored, ongoing support and advice, which can include regular e-updates, periodic training updates (recommended annually to provide updates), and one-to-one support. This is tailored to meet your needs. Contact us for more information.

Frequently asked questions

Can we send someone on your training to then come back and train the rest of our team?

Our training is not designed as a 'train the trainer' course. Our training deals with a complex subject using the skills of an experienced trainer to deliver the course in an easy-to-understand way.

In particular, our training course content is copyrighted and should only be used by those trained. It should not be used to train other people.

Terms & conditions

Please note that all bookings are subject to our training terms.

Interested? For more information;

  1. Latest training dates
  2. In-house training
  3. General enquiries, please email admin@unlock.org.uk or call 01622 230705.
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