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Case work

Providing individual support to people treated unfairly because of their conviction

Have you been unfairly treated because of your criminal record?

Maybe you’ve:

  • 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:

  1. Writing letters on your behalf
  2. Speaking directly to an employer, colleges or regulatory bodies themselves
  3. Representing you at a disciplinary hearing
  4. Acting as a lay advocate in hearings
  5. Being a McKenzie friend (assisting you in court by providing advice and support)


Our resources

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.


Legal advice

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 with the following details:

  1. Your name
  2. Your contact details (e.g. telephone & email)
  3. Your criminal record
  4. The problem you’re having
  5. How you have tried to resolve the problem so far
  6. What support you are looking for
  7. 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?
  8. Whether you have contacted any other organisations for assistance with this problem? If yes, which ones, and what was their response?
  9. 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:

  1. What is the issue? Is it an area that we deal with?
  2. What is the goal? Is it achievable?
  3. 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.

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

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

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