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Category: Ban the box

What’s your experience of ban the box?

As part of our fair access to employment project, we are gathering evidence of employers’ approaches to people with criminal records. We work with employers to develop fair policies and practices and highlight good practice. Ban the box is a key part of helping people with convictions get back into the workplace, and we have called on government to place it on a statutory footing. We know this is only part of the answer though – employers need to have embedded fair recruitment practices to make ban the box effective.

We’re gathering evidence on how ban the box works in practice.



  • Did it encourage you to apply for a job you might not have otherwise?
  • Did you feel you were treated fairly?
  • Or maybe the employer claimed to support ban the box but had a blanket ban on unspent convictions?
  • Maybe it made no difference at all.

Whatever your experience, we want to hear about it.

What we need from you

If you have experience of applying to a ‘ban the box’ employer, contact us at using the subject header ‘Call for evidence: ban the box’. Please include:

  • Your name
  • Contact details (email and telephone) and how you’d like us to contact you
  • Details of your experience (please include the name of the employer and of any staff you spoke to, include emails/screenshots etc if possible)
  • What you think should change
  • Whether you would be willing to take part in media coverage on this issue (this is for our reference, we won’t share your details with others).

Any information you provide will be kept in line with our confidentiality policy. Any personal information provided to us will not be shared externally without your consent.

Find out more about how we handle your data.

Blog – Government publishes summary of responses to call for evidence on the employment of people with convictions

Last week, more than a year since the consultation closed, the Cabinet Office published a summary of responses to their Call for Evidence (CfE) on employing people with convictions. But what does this summary of responses mean for the future? This blog looks at some of the promising signs, some areas for improvement, and questions the lack of any recommendations from government.

The report draws together responses from 76 organisations – a small sample for a national consultation, but that in itself tells us how much work there is to do. The report indicates that the public sector could do more to increase employment of people with convictions but highlights some pockets of good practice in the voluntary sector.

Firstly, the evidence is promising

The responses are promising – 76 organisations from the voluntary (46%), private (32%), and public (14%) sectors responded to the Call for Evidence. Overall, 73% of the organisations that responded said they hire people with a criminal conviction, either directly or through intermediary companies, suppliers or contractors. Over half (56%) of them ask about convictions in a later stage of the recruitment process (i.e. during interview, at the offer stage, etc.) – with 33% asking at the job offer stage. Public sector respondents were particularly poor at this – 71% ask at the initial stage. The chart below shows that the voluntary sector tends to ask the question about convictions at a later stage compared to the private and public sectors – although there is clearly much more work to do with all sectors.

Of those that ask about convictions, when in the recruitment process do they ask?

In summarising the response, the report states: “The Call for Evidence has provided very useful insights for the Civil Service and organisations in general on how to engage in activities that support people with a conviction in finding employment. Furthermore, the Call for Evidence has helped to identify barriers and challenges, both within and outside organisations, when employing people with convictions, and highlights the need for a communication strategy on the benefits of this practice.”

The key messages from the analysis are at the end of this blog, and the report concludes by saying the results highlight how having specific recruitment practices and employability initiatives that reduce the barriers to employment for people with criminal records could have positive impact on the individuals involved, the organisations they are part of, and wider society as a whole in the long term.”

However, 76 responses is a very low number of employers and the proportion of private and public sectors is much lower than it should be. Most respondents were already actively engaged in recruiting from this population. It feels like this call for evidence was a missed opportunity to engage with a much wider range of employers across all sectors. How might the lessons from this call for evidence be used to engage with employers in the future?

There are positives in the analysis

  • Languageour response to the call for evidence explained why we use person-first language – people with convictions, not ex-offenders. We’re not taking credit for this, but the response refers to people with convictions, using the term ex-offenders only when referring to the questions asked and the initial title of the call for evidence. This alone is a really big step forward, and we hope it reflects an active decision by the Cabinet Office to use person-first language – and that it will be adopted by colleagues across Whitehall.
  • Highlights the variety of excellent work being done – predominantly by the third sector – in supporting people with convictions into, and during, employment.
  • Underlines the value to employers of recruiting people with convictions. In our experience, hearing from employers who already do this cuts through and shows other employers what can be achieved. For example, one respondent said “These staff tend to work extremely well, are productive and eager to learn. They are committed, have a good understanding and knowledge of themselves making for a supportive team member”

There are some areas for improvement

  • The majority of respondents ask at application stage. Even if the employer takes a proactive approach to people with convictions, there’s rarely a need to ask all applicants at this stage and the Cabinet Office should take this as an action to look at wider promotion of Ban the Box, including considering placing it on a statutory footing
  • The issue of enhanced checks and security vetting. This paragraph in the analysis raises some concerns –In relation to the security clearance level needed for the role, out of the 76 organisations, only 64% responded. Of these, the large majority need to conduct a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, or an enhanced DBS. A few others indicated they required a full security clearance, vetting checks, or Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.” Respondents might have used DBS check/enhanced DBS check interchangeably but it’s worth thinking about the implications of this. It could be a function of the large number of voluntary organisations who proactively recruit from this population – lived experience/peer roles etc. It’s interesting that a significant majority of employers require enhanced checks, security clearance and vetting – if employers in sensitive fields can recruit people with convictions, surely mainstream employers can do more too? It’s a shame this wasn’t analysed further. It could also be a misunderstanding of the ‘need’ to conduct a basic check. And I’d be interested to see how many say they need ‘CRB checks’ – it makes you wonder how out of date their processes are (the CRB was replaced by the DBS over 6 years ago!)

No clear recommendations from government

Although publishing a summary of responses and carrying out some analysis of them is helpful, a “summary of responses” is very different to a “government response”. There are no concrete recommendations or actions that the government is taking in response to this consultation – and it’s unclear why not. In the “conclusions and next steps” section, the report states “The value of this Call for Evidence does not merely derive from the immediate actions taken as a result of it, but from inspiring further Civil Service and Government reforms in this field. The Civil Service looks forward to working with its stakeholders to be more inclusive, and promoting a culture that supports people with convictions on their path to employment.”

Yet the report makes no mention of these “immediate actions”. And what are the “further Civil Service and Government reforms”? Given the time it’s taken the publish this summary, and the lack of any further clear commitments, one wonders whether this reflects a deprioritisation of this work for the Cabinet Office?

There has been some progress since we made our own submission back in August last year, and below as an addition to this blog we’ve set out how things have progressed against the areas that we called for government action on. Given the importance of this work, the Cabinet Office had a real opportunity to set the scene by producing a detailed response to this call for evidence and making a number of commitments. Given what ended up being published, we’ll be raising this with both the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Justice, who jointly published the initial consultation, to understand what their future plans are.

Promising signs from the civil service pilot

One thing that the summary of responses does highlight is the progress that has been made on the Civil Service pilot scheme, ‘Going Forward into Employment’ (GFiE), where people in prison and near to release have been matched to fixed-term office-based and field-based jobs in participating government departments, via a two-year recruitment exception route. We know that there has been an evaluation done of this pilot, and it seems that this Call for Evidence was initiated (at least in part) to support that project. It’s positive that the pilot is now continuing as a mainstream programme which looks at a range of other groups as well, including veterans, and I hope that the programme will be able to offer more opportunities to those people with convictions who are serving sentences in the community, as well as those near to release from prison who were the focus of the initial pilot. We hope that the evaluation of the pilot is published so that there is a better understanding of how it works and what lessons have been learnt.

Written by Christopher Stacey, Co-director at Unlock

Progress since we made our submission

Written by Rachel Tynan, Policy and practice lead at Unlock

Unlock’s submission to the consultation last year emphasised the need for fair recruitment practices, the range of issues to consider when developing employability initiatives, and evidence on what works and what needs to change so that law abiding people with convictions can secure employment. We called on the government to: 

  1. Develop a cross-government strategy on employment of people with convictions 
  2. Pilot financial incentives for employers who pro-actively recruit people with convictions 
  3. Put Ban the Box on a legislative footing 
  4. Fix the broken DBS filtering system 
  5. Develop a legal framework to ensure individuals’ right to be forgotten where convictions are spent  
  6. Support the Private Members’ Bill on amending the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974  

Looking at the areas we called on the government to look at, below we’ve set out how things have progressed since:

Cross government strategy

Since the CfE the government has launched the New Futures Network and a new ROTL framework. The Ministry of Justice and Department for Work and Pensions have launched a three year programme, working in partnership. By committing resources to the recruitment of people with convictions the government has signalled its intent – but as the report shows, there is a lot of work to do.

Ban the Box

Our submission stressed how putting Ban the Box on a legislative footing – or even finding ways to incentivise business to sign up –  would signal government’s commitment to ensuring people with convictions have a fair chance of employment. Disappointingly, only around 30% of organisations responding to the CfE knew about Ban the Box suggesting much more needs to be to increase awareness and encourage take-up. There are 140 employers now signed up to Ban the Box but clearly a long way to go. Based on this evidence, we think the government should be more strident in its approach to employers.


Since the CfE the Supreme Court ruled that the current filtering rules are unlawful and must be changed in two key respects – the multiple conviction rule was found to be disproportionate, and reprimands and warnings (followed by youth cautions) should not be disclosed. We have written to the government calling on them to implement changes in line with the ruling, but also to commit to carrying out a fundamental review of the wider regime. The government is yet to formally respond to the Supreme Court ruling.

Reform of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Looking at the range of recruitment practices reported to the CfE, most employers still ask about criminal records at application stage – echoing Unlock’s research last year which found that three-quarters of national employers do just that.

We know that this is hugely off putting to people with criminal records –  over half of people with a criminal record say they would not apply for a job where they needed to disclose their criminal record. 75% of employers discriminate against an applicant with a conviction.

Not only is asking at application stage off-putting, it’s also unnecessary – and very likely a breach of the GDPR. In the absence of clear guidance or enforcement action from the Information Commissioner’s Office, employers are unlikely to change these practices, and again we call on government to take legislative steps to ensure Ban the Box becomes the norm.

This also highlights the discrimination people with convictions face. Most convictions will eventually become spent, but people can find themselves out of work, or only able to secure temporary or unskilled work in the meantime. The economic impact hits the individual, their family and wider society – can we afford that? That’s why we have and continue to call on government to reform the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. In July the Ministry of Justice announced plans to reform the criminal records regime to improve employment prospects and we look forward to working with the new Secretary of State on this.

Key messages from the analysis

The summary of responses includes a set of “key messages from the analysis”. These were:

a. There are some indications (from the respondents to this Call for Evidence) that variations exist across the different sectors in relation to employing people with criminal records and at which stage of the recruitment this information is taken into account. Asking about criminal records should not constitute a barrier or a filtering criteria for offering employment;

b. Organisations that employ people with convictions across different roles – and responsibilities – reported having positive experiences, and affirmed that this part of the workforce constitutes an important asset thanks to their skills, commitment and experiences;

c. Attitudinal barriers across stakeholders, including customers, colleagues, and even people with criminal records themselves, are reported to be the main challenges to offering employment to someone with a conviction; consequentially cultural change is likely needed;

d. It is important to have activities that support and prepare people with convictions to be in the job market; examples are CV surgeries, mock interviews, mentoring schemes;

e. There is the need to produce and collect more robust evidence – in addition to case studies – that prove the positive impact of hiring people with convictions.

‘Double discrimination?’ report published

Today we’ve published research on the impact of criminal records as perceived by people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

New data in the report, Double discrimination?, shows that over three-quarters of people surveyed (78%) felt their ethnicity made it harder for them to overcome the problems they faced as a result of having a criminal record. The overwhelming majority (79%) experienced problems gaining employment; these persisted over many years and affected all age groups. African and Caribbean people were most affected.

The full report can be downloaded: Double discrimination? Full report (Unlock, July 2019). An executive summary can also be downloaded: Double discrimination? Executive summary

Read our press release for the launch of the report.

This work is part of our Unlocking Experience project.

Blog – Westminster Hall debate on the disclosure of youth criminal records

The 28th March saw a Westminster Hall debate on the disclosure of youth criminal records (read here or watch here). This followed the publication of the Justice Select Committee’s report on the subject, back in 2017. The report itself was a result of the Committee’s inquiry into disclosure of youth criminal records, launched in 2016, and in some ways a follow-up to their inquiry on the treatment of young adults in the justice system.

Bob Neill MP, Chair of the Committee, introduced the debate and thanked Unlock and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice for the evidence we provided. As part of the inquiry, we had arranged a seminar for Committee members and people with convictions to meet and discuss the impact of disclosing criminal records from childhood.

The government had committed to considering the Committee’s recommendations following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the filtering rules.

The debate was well informed and MPs highlighted the effects of disclosure on employment, education, housing, travel and insurance. Key points included:

John Spellar: “Is not there also an overall, macroeconomic issue, particularly as a number of employers are expressing concerns about shortfalls in labour either leading up to or following Brexit? Artificially restricting people from working and, indeed, from advancing is not just bad for those individuals, shocking though that is, but very bad for society and the economy.”

Bob Neill: “Low-paid and unsatisfactory jobs create burdens at every level, so the point is entirely true”.

David Lammy: “Trident – They were the ones who said to me, “Could you put this [criminal records] into your review? We are aware of a group of offenders who reach about 25 or 26 years old and want to move away from their criminal past but continue to reoffend because, as they grow up, they cannot get a job due to the [disclosure] regime that we have.”

This, in particular, resonates at a time when serious youth violence is dominating the headlines. What hope is there of reducing violence if young people with even minor criminal records see that it is impossible for them to get into legitimate, sustainable employment? This has an impact on these young men, their communities and wider society. As Victoria Prentis said:

“Does ruining their lives serve any real, practical purpose for the rest of society?”

The fundamental issue is the purpose of ongoing disclosure, and whether the existing regime delivers on that purpose – or actually hampers other good work going on in the justice system.

As David Lammy said, the Supreme Court judgment provides an opportunity:

“The Supreme Court decision could be interpreted narrowly by the Government, but from reading the report, the Committee’s mood suggests that it is an opportunity, notwithstanding all that is going on in Parliament, for the Government to take a broader view and to review our criminal records regime.

“My view is that there should be a balance between a rules-based system, which is largely what we have, and which is clearly cheaper—that is effectively why we have it, because there is time and one makes a judgment about spent convictions and disclosure—and a system that is slightly more sophisticated and might cost slightly more. There is a question about who pays. In the Canadian jurisdiction, the individuals seeking to get their criminal records looked at again pay for the system. In my view, a parole board, a magistrate or a judge could make the assessment.”

David Hanson has recently published his review into prison education provision in Wales. In the debate, he said:

“We focus in the report on training, employment and through-the-gate services, including prison and youth offender institution training and community rehabilitation companies in adult prisons and elsewhere…but whatever the system does with that training, someone ultimately has to get a job with a public sector body or an employer.”

Ban the Box was supported by all contributors – it’s not a silver bullet, said Bob Neill, but a base on which to build.

The Civil Service has now rolled out Ban the Box across all departments, and Liz Savile Roberts MP asked how many people with criminal records were employed in the Ministry of Justice – more on this later.

David Hanson is a keen advocate for Ban the Box. As he put it:

“The simple idea…is that disclosure happens after the job interview and job offer. The right to refuse is still there, but the judgments are made on the merits of the application and the individual in front of the employer—not on a conviction that may have happened some years ago.”

This is exactly the approach Unlock advocates: ask about criminal records only after an offer has been made (although we know not all Ban the Box employers do it this way).

As David Lammy highlighted, it’s important to understand where Ban the Box sits within reform of criminal records disclosure:

“…the problem with that initiative is, first, that it is voluntary and, secondly, that it is about the recruitment stage? The fundamental point about the work by the Select Committee and others who have raised this issue is that, beyond recruitment, there are questions about whether things should be disclosed to employers in the first place. It would be important for the Government not to lose that principle.”

There were many other excellent points made but I want to turn now to the responses from Edward Argar, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, on behalf of the government. The government has yet to formally respond to the Supreme Court’s judgment in the cases of P and others. No formal response was forthcoming here either, instead the Minister said:

We work closely with the Home Office to give these things proper consideration. Although that judgment has been handed down, the order behind it has not yet been sent over to us. We await that order. When it is received, it is important that we are speedy and timely in addressing it.”

The Minister agreed that employment is a crucial factor in reducing reoffending – which costs 15bn a year on some estimates.

“…employers should not regard the disclosure of a criminal record as an automatic barrier to employment. A balanced judgment should be exercised, having regard to factors such as a person’s age at the time of the offence, how long ago it was, and the relevance to the application or post in question.”

Unfortunately, all the evidence shows that employers do regard a criminal record as a barrier to employment. This point was made several times during the debate, and also by Lord Kerr in the Supreme Court judgment. Given the government’s efforts to get prisoners into work on release, and their manifesto commitment to incentivising employers to recruit people with convictions, it seems odd to not acknowledge the real difficulties people face in gaining employment.

Perhaps the Minister’s perception is skewed by the apparently impressively inclusive approach of his own department. In response to Liz Savile Roberts’ question on the number of people with convictions employed at the Ministry of Justice, he said:

“My understanding is that of those people with a previous conviction who applied through the approach that has been taken in the civil service since 2016, 92% subsequently secured employment, which is a positive outcome.”

That certainly seems like a positive outcome. However, there doesn’t appear to be an official source for that figure, and we would welcome publication of the data because it’s important to understand this is context, such as the numbers it involves, what types of criminal records, how long ago, and why the 8% were refused.

I was pleased to see that the Minister agreed that the judgment – and the actions that must follow – creates an opportunity to consider the Committee’s recommendations for reform of the criminal records system. I hope this will mean that the Ministry of Justice (along with the Home Office) taken an holistic view of the current regime, its aims and the evidence, and look to make changes that benefit individuals with convictions, their communities and wider society.


Written by Christopher Stacey

Find out the latest on reform of the criminal records regime in our policy section on DBS filtering.

Almost three-quarters of national companies continue to ask about criminal records at job application stage, new research shows

Unlock has today published new research that shows the vast majority of national companies continuing to have criminal record declarations as a core part of their initial job application forms.

Marking the 5-year anniversary of the Ban the Box campaign, the findings reveal the extent to which national employers have failed to recognise the negative consequences of criminal record tick-boxes on application forms.


Commenting on the report, A question of fairness, co-director of Unlock Christopher Stacey said:

“We’re proud to have co-founded the Ban the Box campaign and it’s really positive that over 110 companies – including Barclays, Boots, the Civil Service, and Virgin Trains – have signed up so far, but this new research shows that it remains the case that asking about criminal records at application stage is the default approach for almost three-quarters of national, big name companies. It’s also worrying that around 1 in 5 of them are asking for information they are not legally entitled to.


“These findings are unsurprising – employers are asking about criminal records at application stage as a way of deselecting applicants. We know this approach has a chilling effect on talented applicants with a criminal record, many of whom never apply because they think they don’t stand a chance. In fact, evidence from employers who do recruit people with criminal records shows that they make reliable, hardworking and loyal employees. Employers who are open about their inclusive recruitment practices report a positive impact on their reputation.


“Yet the numbers of employers removing criminal record questions from their application forms is not increasing fast enough. Earlier this month Unlock published new guidance for employers which showed that collecting criminal records data at the job application stage is unlikely to be compliant with the GDPR and data protection legislation. Government, business and charities need to seriously consider how to accelerate the changes in employer behaviour that Ban the Box encourages. Unless significant progress is made, increasingly it seems that the only way to make sure employers remove the tick-box is by looking to put Ban the Box on a statutory footing.”


Responding to the findings, Jessica Rose, Ban the Box campaign manager at Business in the Community, said:

“Unlock’s work to unearth the recruitment practices of some of the country’s biggest private sector employers paints a stark picture of confusion and inconsistency when it comes to managing risk around criminal convictions. This results in people being unfairly excluded from work and many more believing that no one is willing to give them a chance. Employers need to grasp the nettle and implement Ban the Box, not just because it’s the right thing to do but because it will benefit their businesses and their communities.


“Some of the employers cited in this report already work with Business in the Community and other charities to support individuals into employment. This should give them the positive evidence they need to make the business case for changing their mainstream practices. We want to work with these businesses, alongside Unlock, to support them to put robust, fair and inclusive practices into place.”


We surveyed 80 large, national employers across eight sectors – supermarkets, retail, hotels, food and drink, construction, car manufacturing, utilities and communications and found that:

  1. 77 out of 80 employers had online application forms.
  2. Of those 77, 54 employers (70%) asked about criminal records on their application form.
  3. 80% of employers who asked about criminal records provided no guidance to applicants.
  4. 22% of employers asked about criminal records in a way that was either potentially unlawful or misleading. 
  5. Collecting criminal records data at application stage is unlikely to be compliant with data protection legislation.
  6. None of the employers surveyed provided information to applicants on why they collect criminal records data, or for how long it will be retained. Under the GDPR, employers who fail to provide this information are likely to be in breach of the law.
  7. None of the construction companies and only around half the car manufacturers in our survey asked about criminal records at application stage.


The findings of this report show that there is still a long way to go in encouraging employers to stop asking about criminal records on application forms. In the conclusion we explore the broader implications of this report, but to achieve a fundamental shift in recruitment practice and seeing Ban the Box as business-as-usual, we believe there are steps that both government and employers should take. That is why we make a number of recommendations to both government and employers, which can be found on pages 4 and 5 of the report.



  1. Unlock is an independent, award-winning national charity that provides a voice and support for people with convictions who are facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record, often long after they have served their sentence.
  2. There are over 11 million people in the UK that have a criminal record.
  3. The report can be downloaded here. A summary of the report can be downloaded here. The full list of employers we surveyed, along with the questions they ask, can be found in the Annex.
  4. The report has been produced as part of Unlock’s Fair Access to Employment project, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
  5. Unlock runs the website Recruit! – providing advice and support for employers on recruiting people with convictions and dealing with criminal records fairly. Employers looking for further advice about this guidance can contact
  6. For employers that want to sign up as a Ban the Box employer, please see


Our submission to the government’s call for evidence on the employment of people with convictions

Today we have submitted our written response to the government’s call for evidence on the employment for people with convictions.

Download our submission here.

You can find out more about the call for evidence in our recent post to encourage others to get involved.

Our submission draws on work that we’ve been doing as part of our Fair Access to Employment project.


Get involved! Government consultation on employer practices towards people with criminal records

The Cabinet Office (in partnership with the Ministry of Justice) are calling for evidence on the employment for people with convictions, and they want to hear from employers about recruitment practices, employability initiatives and evidence/impact. As well as employers, the Cabinet Office want to hear from organisations or professionals who:

  • work with people with convictions through the provision of skills training, outreach, mentoring, work placements.
  • work with people with convictions to help them find employment?
  • work with or advise other organisations on creating fair recruitment practices and supporting people with convictions in the labour market
  • campaign to reduce the stigma associated with having, or hiring someone with, a criminal conviction

We’ve shared this call for evidence with our network of employers and encourage you to do the same. However, we expect that the majority of employers that respond will have a more positive view of hiring people with convictions. While this is important, it’s just as important to hear about employers with negative views of employing people with a criminal record, so please share examples – anonymised if you prefer – of both in your response to the Cabinet Office, and share them with us too to help inform our response.

Although the consultation is not directly targeted at individuals, anyone can respond to the consultation so we would encourage people with a criminal record who have evidence and experiences linked to the areas below to respond.

Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock said:

“We’re very pleased to see the Cabinet Office launch this call for evidence, and we’re keen to raise awareness of it so that it reaches as many employers as possible. We’d really like to to encourage responses from businesses that perhaps have less positive approaches approaches to applicants with a criminal record, so that the government understand what some of the barriers are for employers. Alongside a number of positive examples of where employers do this well, we know that there are widespread negative attitudes towards applicants with a criminal record, and we’ll be making sure that these are reflected in our response so that we can encourage the government to do more to help change this.”

The consultation is looking at three areas, and we’ve suggested some questions below to consider in your response:

Recruitment practices

  1. What are employers doing – if anything – to promote fair recruitment for people with a criminal record?
  2. Do employers impose restrictions and/or bans on the hiring of ex-offenders for some or all jobs – and if so, why?
  3. What incentives or support could help employers sign up to Ban the Box?
  4. Examples of employers that proactively hire people with a criminal convictions. Examples of companies that restrict or refuse employment to people with convictions.


Employability initiatives

  1. Which companies run employability initiatives to support recruitment of people with criminal records?
  2. What support could be offered to employers to improve prospects for people with criminal records?


Evidence and impact

  1. What is the impact of employment – for business, for the individual, the community and the economy?
  2. What evidence is there of impact and what evidence could be collected better?


How to get involved

Read the full call for evidence here and complete and return your response to by 5pm on Friday 31 August 2018.

Unlock will be responding directly to the consultation too, so alongside making a response yourself, please do send us information that can help inform our response. You can email details (confidentially) to

Although the consultation is not directly targeted at individuals, anyone can respond to the consultation so we would encourage people with a criminal record who have evidence and experiences linked to the areas above to respond.


Unlocking the potential of the UK’s ex-offenders

An article published  by Nat West suggests that one  remedy to fill the UK’s skills gap could be to hire more ex-offenders and discusses what is the best way to go about it.

Christopher Stacey contributes to the article, stating “We know from employers that have been proactive in recruiting people with convictions that they make good employees. The first thing we recommend any company does is look at its current policy and approach. ”

You can read the full article , including tips for employers who are considering hiring an ex-offender, here.






Civil service to “ban the box” to help rehabilitate people with convictions

This week David Cameron unveiled a raft of prison reform measures.  One of these will be  to scrap the declaration of criminal convictions in the initial application stage for civil service jobs.

Responding to this announcement, Unlock’s  Christopher Stacey said:

“We welcome David Camerons’ commitment to the Ban the Box campaign and in changing the recruitment practice of the Civil Service towards people with convictions.


The Civil Service represents a significant employer and this news is a welcome boost to the employment prospects of the millions of people with a criminal record.


There’s no reason why any role should be closed off to banning the box and we look forward to ensuring that the Civil Service implement the Prime Ministers’ commitment alongside a number of other measures to make it a fairer and more inclusive employer towards people with convictions.


We work closely with employers to encourage them to recruit people with convictions and deal with criminal records fairly. We look forward to working with Government, alongside BITC and others, to encourage more employers to take this proactive approach in removing the barriers people with convictions face when looking for work.”

Our quote was featured in an article in Civil Service World.


Notes to editors

  • Press/media
  • Unlock is an independent, award-winning charity for people with convictions which exists for two simple reasons. Firstly, we assist people to move on positively with their lives by empowering them with information, advice and support to overcome the stigma of their previous convictions. Secondly, we seek to promote a fairer and more inclusive society by challenging discriminatory practices and promoting socially just alternatives.
  • Our website is
  • David Camerons’ full speech can be read here.
  • More information about Ban the Box here.

New project – Fair Access to Employment

We are delighted to report that Unlock has been awarded a three-year grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation that will enable us to deliver a programme of work that will challenge the discrimination faced by people with convictions in getting employment.

This marks the beginning of a significant area of work for Unlock, enabling us to focus on addressing a number of key issues that combine to unfairly exclude so many people from moving on in their lives.

Building on our track-record of working with Government, employers and other sectors, our approach will aim to ‘support and challenge’. It will also play to Unlock’s strengths as an independent advocacy charity in holding organisations to account and speaking truth to power.

Commenting on the news, Christopher Stacey, Co-Director at Unlock, said “We know from people with convictions that finding and keeping employment is the biggest problem they face as a result of having a criminal record – often many years after they were convicted. This project will enable us to actively challeng some of the unfair treatment that people with convictions face, as well as supporting employers and others involved in recruitment processes, to make sure that people with convictions are treated fairly.”

“Our focus will be to make sure that employers understand that the people we’re encouraging them to open their doors to are those that could be potentially fantastic employees, yet at the moment they’re missing out on these people because of the policies and practices that they have in place. We’ll also be doing a lot of work to improve and challenge processes used by employers to carry out criminal record checks, such as the Disclosure & Barring Service and Disclosure Scotland.”

More details about the project are available at

Sign up to receive project updates here (selecting to receive ‘news on our Project – Fair Access to Employment’)



Notes to editors

  1. Press/media 
  2. Unlock is an independent award-winning charity, providing trusted information, advice and support for people with criminal convictions. Our staff and volunteers combine professional training with personal experience to help others overcome the long-term problems that having a conviction can bring. Our knowledge and insight helps us to work with government, employers and others, to change policies and practices to create a fairer and more inclusive society so that people with convictions can move on in their lives. Our website is
  3. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. They do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change. The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. They make grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change. They also operate a £26 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit. Their website is

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