Together with the charity Transform Justice, Unlock has launched the #FairChecks movement to help push for a fresh start for the criminal records system. 

Our outdated criminal records regime is holding hundreds of thousands of people back from participating fully in society. Even a minor criminal history can produce lifelong barriers to employment, volunteering, housing and even travelling abroad, many years after people have moved on from their past. The system needs to change.

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. We are looking for reform in the following areas:

  1. Reducing the length of time a person’s conviction is revealed on basic checks.
  2. Making a more proportionate and flexible system to what is revealed on standard and enhanced checks that protects the public without unduly harming people’s opportunity to get on in life.
  3. A distinct approach to records acquired in childhood and a more nuanced approach to those acquired in early adulthood.
  4. The introduction of review mechanisms so that no one has to face a lifetime being held back by their past without the prospect of review at some point.

We want a disclosure system that is fair and gives people a genuine chance of moving on and contributing fully to society.

We are calling for the government to reform the disclosure of criminal records – so minor and very old crimes do not appear on on standard and enhanced criminal records checks and so that those who have turned their lives around are not forced to reveal their convictions long after they have served their sentence.

We are calling on the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to launch to a major review of the legislation on the disclosure of criminal records. Given the importance of understanding the experiences of those with criminal records (and other points of view) we believe the review should be an open policy making process as recommended by the Cabinet Office. This means engaging with a broad range of experts and people with experience (more information about open policy making is on the government’s website).

Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said:

“People who have made mistakes in the past find themselves locked out of jobs and opportunities, unable to fully contribute to society or to achieve their potential because of a criminal record that is effectively a life sentence. Helping people to secure employment, support their families and contribute to the economy is one of the best ways of making communities safer. Yet the law as it stands means people are forced to reveal criminal records to employers and others for many years – sometimes for the rest of their lives.

“Unlock is delighted to be partnering with Transform Justice to launch the #FairChecks movement to help push for a major review of the legislation on the disclosure of criminal records. Everyone should have the opportunity to unleash their potential and make a positive contribution to society. Everyone should have the opportunity of a fresh start. The #FairChecks site is a crucial way for people to show their MP that they support reform of the criminal record disclosure system.”

Penelope Gibbs, director of Transform Justice, said:

“People want to move on from their past but our criminal records disclosure system is a barrier. Transform Justice is pleased to be partnering with Unlock to launch a movement for reform of the system. We know that everybody who has been in trouble with the law should have the opportunity of a fresh start”

How can you help create the change?

Use the #FairChecks site to get the support of your local MP.
Because it is the government that has to make changes to the law, we need the support of MPs. You can help by getting the support of your local MP. The first step is to use the #FairChecks website to send them a letter letting them know that a fair criminal records system is important to you.

This is just the start of the journey towards a fairer criminal records system.
We’re creating a movement so that we can go further together. Tick the box when you submit your letter to stay updated by email about the #FairChecks movement and how you can support the next stage.

Encourage your friends and family to support it.
You can also share your submission with friends and family and encourage them to write to their own MPs.

Share it on social media.
Please tweet a link to the site using the hashtag #FairChecks, share it on Facebook and LinkedIn and highlight it with your networks, directing people to the website

Support it as an organisation.
Alongside encouraging individuals to use #FairChecks to write to their MP, we are keen for organisations to be part of this too. We want to encourage organisations to show their public support for #FairChecks through Twitter, other social media and blogs, and please do get in touch with us if your organisation is interested in showing its support in other ways.

More information

#FairChecks is part of our policy work on the DBS filtering system and is linked to two of our priorities for government.

Follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #FairChecks

If you have any questions about #FairChecks, there are some FAQ’s at the bottom of the #FairChecks site, or you can email

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