With the Christmas break almost here and 2016 coming to an end, I wanted to write a short blog to reflect month-by-month on our work over the last 12 months.
Overall, it’s yet again been an incredibly busy year for Unlock with lots of positive news and progress to report. We’ve had an addition to the staff team. We’ve also continued to expand the information, advice and support we provide to help people overcome the stigma of their convictions:
- We have continued to see an increase in the numbers of people accessing our helpline and websites. Building on last years’ unprecedented rise, our helpline will have dealt with over 6,000 enquiries, a 10% increase on last year.
- The number of visitors to our information site has also continued to grow, with over one million visits (yes, MILLION!) accessing the site in 2016.
- Our disclosure calculator will have helped over 50,000 people work out when their convictions become spent.
We’ve also strengthened our advocacy role by challenging discriminatory practices, encouraging employers and influencing government policy. We’re delighted that this range of work has been recognised through a number of awards, including the coveted Longford Prize in November.
That said, there continues to be new and extended policies and practices that treat people with convictions unfairly and effectively punish people long after they’ve served their sentence. That makes our work more important now than it ever has been, so we look forward to yet another strong year in 2017.
In the meantime, on behalf of all the staff and the board of trustees, I would like to wish the people we help, our volunteers, supporters and funders a very merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.
Here’s a quick round-up of some of the key moments for Unlock during the year:
In January, the High Court ruled the criminal record disclosure scheme unlawful in a case that Unlock supported
In February, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, committed the civil service to banning the box about criminal records from their application forms
In March, our co-director, Christopher Stacey, won the High Sheriff award. We also published the first ever independent evaluation of our helpline
In April, we supported the launch of research and a campaign to reform the disclosure of childhood criminal records. Our criminal record disclosure training was also endorsed by the Probation Institute.
In June, we collected case studies of people affected by childcare disqualification by association regulations, and then worked on our response to the government consultation where we called for the regulations to be scrapped
In July, we published a number of case studies of bad practices by employers that we’d successfully challenged
In August, we launched an updated version of our online forum for people with convictions
In September, we launched a new website to help employers to recruit people with criminal records
In October, after joint efforts by Unlock and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ), the Justice Committee announced an inquiry into youth criminal records
In December, we welcomed Nick Hardwick as a Patron and Charlie Taylor’s review into youth justice was published, with recommendations made on childhood criminal records. Our evidence to the Justice Committee’s inquiry into youth criminal records was published and we took a small group of people with convictions to a private session with the Committee so they could hear first-hand experiences of the obstacles people have faced.