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Our journey so far

Unlock was founded in 1998, by a group of former prisoners who wanted to use their experience so that people with convictions would have better opportunities to move on in their lives. We've come a long way since then, supporting thousands of individuals as they navigate life with a criminal record - and changing laws to make the system fairer.Scroll to see some of our highlights so far

  • 2000: 'UNLOCK, National Association of Ex-offenders Limited' is registered as a charity

  • 2004: Lord Ramsbotham GCB, CBE becomes Unlock's President

  • 2005: Unlock launches a pilot project to provide access to bank accounts for those leaving prison

    By the end of the project in 2014, 114 prisons now had links with high street banks. Read more.

  • 2009: The first pilot of the Unlock forum launches

  • 2010: We launch our volunteering scheme with HMPs East Sutton Park & Blantyre House

  • 2011: Unlock wins at the Guardian Charity Awards

  • 2014: Unlock introduces disclosure training

    We’ve since trained thousands of professionals – find out more about our courses.

  • 2014: Changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) come into force, enabling more convictions to become spent

  • 2015: Recruit! - our website for employers - launches

    Visit Recruit! for practical guidance to help you recruit fairly.

  • 2015: 'Enforced subject access request' becomes a criminal offence after campaigning by Unlock

    Read about the campaign, and the work we’re doing to ensure the law is enforced.

  • 2016: Unlock wins the Longford Prize

  • 2019: The Supreme Court rules that changes to the filtering regime must be made, following an intervention from Unlock

  • 2019: Unlock's Fair Admissions Pledge launches to improve access to higher education

  • 2020: Unlock wins 'outstanding national organisation' at Criminal Justice Alliance Awards

    Find out more about the award, which recognised our work on changes to filtering rules.

  • 2020: Changes to filtering rules come into effect

    Thousands more people now have clear Enhanced DBS checks and can move on from their past. Read our response.

  • 2021: Unlock celebrates its 21st Birthday

    We also launched our ambitious strategic plan for 2021-26: ‘Tackling injustice, changing lives’.

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12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

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