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Tag: criminal record checks

Look what we’ve done! 

You can see all we achieved in 2015/16 in our annual report.

Why we are here

The world is increasingly complex for anyone with a conviction. It can leave many people hopeless and despairing of ever re-building their lives. The law around disclosure is complicated and inconsistent. There are fewer and fewer sources of advice. Use – often unfair use – of the DBS is snowballing. It gets harder to maintain personal privacy in an online world. Unlock gives people practical help to deal with the everyday challenges of living with a criminal record. We also lobby for fairer systems – changes to make a big difference to many people.

What did we achieve in 2015/16?

In 2015/16 our staff of five:

  • campaigned for fairer job-recruitment practices
    • we produced helpful guidance
    • we queried the use of badly-worded forms
    • we challenged employers who used  the wrong level of criminal records check
  • gave information to hundreds of thousands of people via our Information Hub (nearly 900,000 unique visits).
  • engaged with thousands more people with our Disclosure CalculatorForum and e-magazine (theRecord).
  • helped more than 4000 individuals to get the information and advice they needed via our Helpline.
  • trained 162 professional practitioners – helping them to help others understand about criminal records.
  • gave face-to-face information to dozens of people in prison.
  • supported 14 volunteers (including serving prisoners) to become Helpline Assistants and gain valuable work experience.

All this has made a profound difference to individual lives.

“When I first got in touch with Unlock I was very low, but they gave me the emotional support and encouragement I needed. I had felt very isolated but knowing that someone else was there who knew what I was going through kept me going. I don’t know if I’d be here today if it wasn’t for Unlock.”

“… the information I’ve received off Unlock has been invaluable and has gone a long way to making me feel like my life isn’t ruined! The helpline is amazing; always well-staffed and every single person I spoke to was informative, helpful, reassuring and most importantly, non- judgemental.”

This year is even busier! With the need for our work ever-expanding, we estimate over 6000 people will use our Helpline and we’ll receive over one million visits to our online resources.

We would like to thank you anyone who has helped us in the last year, and if you would like to continue help us and remain independent we are grateful for any donations.

DBS Update Service and One Certificate

This is an update taken from our Information Hub

Today, we’ve published a brief guide which explains some of the changes that the DBS has introduced this week.

The Update Service is a new subscription service lets you keep your DBS certificate up-to-date so you can take it with you when you move jobs or roles. The employer can then carry out free, online, instant checks to see if any new information has come to light since the certificate’s issue – this is called a ‘status check’.

To coincide with launching the Update Service, the DBS will now only issue certificates to you; they’ll no longer send a copy to the Registered Body. This change is being referred to as ‘One Certificate’. Employers will now need to ask you for sight of your DBS Certificate.

The guide we’ve put together discusses some of the issues and questions that people with convictions are likely to be interested in, including some of the benefits and potential downsides to these changes.

Read the guide we’ve published here.


If you have any questions about this information, please contact us.

If you’d like to discuss this information with others, there is a specific thread on our online forum.

Filtering process for old/minor convictions put forward by Government

Unlock, the national charity for people with convictions, has today welcomed Government proposals which, if introduced, would mean that some old and minor cautions and convictions will no longer be disclosed on standard and enhanced level criminal record checks, carried out for employers by the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS).

In January 2013, the Court of Appeal found that the current system of disclosing all convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings, no matter how old or minor, was not compatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (the right to a private and family life). The Government has filed an application for permission to appeal against this ruling, so for the time being the system stays unchanged. But, in response to the judgement itself, the Government has put forward a filtering process. The changes would not come into force until after the legislation has completed its passage through Parliament.

For adults with a conviction, it would not be disclosed if (a) the conviction was more than 11 years ago, (b) it is the only conviction on record, and (b) it did not result in a prison sentence. Serious violent and sexual offences would continue to be disclosed. For adults with cautions, they will not be disclosed if (a) the caution was more than 6 years ago and (b) it is not in the list of serious violent and sexual offences. For people under 18 at the time, the periods would be 5 and half years for a conviction, and 2 years for cautions.

Christopher Stacey, Unlock’s Director of Services, who advised the Government in 2011 as part of an expert panel set up by the Home Office to look at this issue, said, “Since 2002, more and more employers have been using standard and enhanced level checks as a reason for not employing people with old and minor offences on their record. The current system discloses minor cautions and convictions until a person’s 100th birthday, and our peer-helpline regularly deals with people whose minor convictions from, in many cases, more than 20 years ago stop them from getting work in the profession they’re qualified and experienced in. In 2011, we provided the Government with clear proposals on how a filtering system could work. Although today’s proposals don’t go as far as we would like, the acceptance that there should in fact be a more balanced approach to disclosing convictions is an important step forward, and we hope that this system can be introduced as soon as possible.”

– END –


CRB’s and second chances

As part of of the ongoing Court of Appeal case about CRB checks, we’ve written an article for

You can read the article here.

Reforming the ROA, seeking employment, and employers attitudes

We’ve contributed to a number of radio programmes today. There are three different discussions to listen to below.

We’ve been on BBC Radio Kent talking about seeking employment with a criminal record

We’ve been on BBC Radio Tees talking about reforming the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

We’ve been on BBC Radio Kent talking about employing people with convictions

Part 1

Part 2

Employers should not discriminate against reformed offenders

We’ve contributed to a discussion on BBC Tees about the attitudes of employers towards people with convictions

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