For over 20 years Unlock has, as an independent charity, provided a voice and support for people who are facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record, often long after they have served their sentence. We believe in a society where people can thrive and are not held back by their past. This means a fair and inclusive society that removes unnecessary barriers and supports the reintegration of law-abiding people with a criminal record. Government has an important role to play in finding solutions so that no one is left behind.
We need a fair justice system – one that gives a second chance to people who have served their time and want to make a fresh start. Helping people with convictions to secure employment, support their families and contribute to the economy is one of the best ways of making communities safer. Yet the law as it stands means people are forced to disclose convictions to employers and others for many years – sometimes for the rest of their lives. While in some cases this will be necessary to protect the public, the current approach does little to make our country safer. Instead people are locked out of jobs and opportunities, unable to contribute to society or to achieve their potential because of a criminal record that is effectively a life sentence.
There are over 11 million people with a criminal record and every year we hear from thousands of people held back unnecessarily – locked out of employment, refused home insurance, excluded from higher education and professional membership.
But the government has an opportunity: to radically rethink the people who have turned their backs on crime can and should have the opportunity to unleash their potential and make a positive contribution to society.
That’s why we published our priorities for government in 2020. We are calling on the government to commit to five priorities to bring about a fresh start for law-abiding people with criminal records: