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How our helpline works

Confidential peer advice on overcoming the effects of criminal convictions

Our helpline provides information and advice to people with convictions.

Its focus is on helping people to overcome the problems and difficulties that are caused by criminal convictions. These are sometimes referred to as the ‘collateral’ consequences of criminal convictions.

Our helpline is closely linked to our self-help information site.


Our commitment

“Accurate, reliable, honest and non-judgemental advice from people who can understand where you’re coming from”


Issues we cover

Our helpline provides advice on a range of areas where a criminal record can cause some problems or difficulties. Some of the more common areas that we cover include:

  • The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
  • The way the Disclosure and Barring Service work
  • What’s revealed on criminal record checks
  • Disclosing to employers
  • Applying to colleges and universities
  • Disclosing to landlords, letting agents and housing providers
  • Buying insurance
  • Travelling abroad

However, there are limits to what we can provide advice on. There is more information here about the areas that we don’t cover.


Our helpline is…

  • Confidential – we don’t share personal details
  • Peer-delivered – people with personal experience
  • Reliable – we provide up-to-date information
  • Honest – we give realistic advice
  • Constructive – we try to provide practical solutions
  • Free – we don’t charge individuals


The structure of the helpline

Our helpline is not a ‘government-contracted’ service. It is independent of Government funding.

The helpline continues to exist because we are supported by charitable trusts and individuals who donate to Unlock so that we can continue to run a free service for people with convictions. Please help us to continue to provide this service.

We approach the helpline as a ‘service of last resort’. This means that, wherever possible, we try to answer questions in other ways, such as through our website.

The helpline is coordinated by three full-time members of staff, and supported by a number of volunteers who act in various capacities (such as helpline advisors, administrators and researchers). If you’re interested in volunteering for our helpline, find out about the current vacancies at Unlock.


Making sure it works well

We’re committed to ensuring that our helpline meets the objectives we’ve set for it. That’s why:

  1. We’re a member of the Helplines Partnership
  2. We carried out an independent analysis and evaluation of our helpline, published in March 2016


Signposting to others

Where an individual is looking for advice or support that we don’t provide, we will try and signpost to others that we believe can.


Contact details

Find out the contact details of our helpline.

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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