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 email@example.com 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 -
- 31/03/2020in Case studies - Case workThea contacted our helpline for some advice in completing a university application form. Thea explained that she had two old cautions which were eligible for filtering (and so would not appear on her enhanced DBS certificate). However, the wording of the university’s statement and question on their application form implied that she needed to ...
- 27/03/2020in Case studies - Case work, Case studies - Organisations, Case work, Housing, Normal life, Policy successesLawrence contacted us concerned that a crown court had provided information about his spent conviction without the proper authority. Lawrence had a spent conviction from 12 years ago which could still be found on the internet. His local residents’ association had used the information they found online to request a Certificate of Conviction from the...
- 06/01/2020in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Aishah – University removes Disqualification by Association (DbA) form form their application process.Our helpline was contacted by a lady who was extremely concerned about a form her daughter had received following her university application. The lady explained that her daughter had applied for a teacher training degree and had been asked to confirm that nobody she lived with had any unspent convictions which would mean that she...
- 27/09/2019in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Darren – “An employer carrying out an ineligible check led to my job offer being withdrawn”Darren contacted our helpline after a job he’d been offered with a local council had been withdrawn following receipt of an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. Although Darren’s convictions were all spent (from 30 years ago) and minor, as there was more than one, they were not eligible to be removed (or ‘filtered’...
- 29/04/2019in Case studies - Case work
Case study – Kabir – Confirmation from the ICO that my spent conviction couldn’t be used by an employer when deciding not to employ meIn early 2018, Kabir was offered a job working as a Sales Consultant for an IT company based in Wales. As part of the terms and conditions of his employment, Kabir was told that he would need a basic criminal record check which would be carried out by a DBS Responsible Organisation (RO). Although Kabir...