Skip to main content

Tag: Disclosure

Unlock and Nottinghamshire Youth Justice Service collaborate on resource for young people with convictions

We are pleased to publish a new resource we’ve created in collaboration with Nottinghamshire Youth Justice Service. The booklet, produced for young people and the professionals supporting them, is designed to help a young person understand when they need to disclose their convictions, and how to do so.

Download the booklet

Christopher Stacey, Co-director of Unlock, said:

“We were delighted to partner with Nottinghamshire Youth Justice Service to develop this resource. It’s crucial that organisations supporting individuals with a criminal record have good understanding on if, what, when and how their clients will need to tell employers and others about their criminal record. We have delivered our ‘Advising with Conviction’ training to a range of youth offending teams and we were pleased to follow this up by producing this information booklet for the young people that Nottinghamshire Youth Justice Service work with.” 

Laura Moore from Nottinghamshire Youth Justice Service said: 

“The fair disclosure of any criminal convictions is paramount to individuals in order for them to successfully move on from their past. The rules can be very confusing, and we have found that, particularly for young people they have little confidence in disclosing the right information or challenging unfair judgements. By working with Unlock we have been able to jointly produce a comprehensive and accurate booklet for young people to give them all the information they need. They can choose to use it now or refer to it the future. It has also proved very useful in encouraging employers and educational organisations to consider their polices around people with criminal records.  Unlock have been a valued partner and source of training and support in this area of expertise.”

Find out more about Unlock’s training for professionals

Unlock complaint leads to ruling that the Disclosure and Barring Service breached the Data Protection Act

We’re pleased to report that the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has today issued a press release which sets out their ruling that the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has breached the Data Protection Action after failing to stop collecting information about criminal conviction data that was no longer required because of a filtering regime that was introduced in May 2013.

The DBS hadn’t updated their application forms, and so although the ‘filtering’ process meant that certain cautions and convictions are no longer disclosed on standard and enhanced checks, the DBS were still asking whether applicants had “ever been convicted of a criminal offence or received a caution…” as part of their application form. The result of this was that employers were finding out information which they weren’t entitled to know about.

We made the original complaint to the ICO in September 2013, after our helpline had received a number of calls about this problem. In particular, we highlighted two cases where individuals had disclosed information they no longer needed to disclose, but had subsequently had their offers of employment withdrawn. The two cases are explained in more detail below.

Christopher Stacey, Co-Director at Unlock, said; “We’re pleased to see that the DBS has responded to this issue by updating their application form and improving their guidance to applicants. It is important that people with convictions are able to understand what they do and don’t have to disclose during the recruitment process, and the DBS have an important part to play to make this clear and easy to understand.”

“It remains difficult for people to find out whether a caution or conviction that they have is eligible for filtering, and we would like to see the DBS respond to this issue by introducing a system which allows individuals to obtain a copy of their DBS certificate before they start applying for jobs or volunteer work, so that they can be confident that they’re disclosing the appropriate level of information. We would also like to encourage employers that are entitled to carry out standard and enhanced checks to make sure that they look at their own recruitment processes and make sure that they are only asking about cautions and convictions that would not be filtered by the DBS”.

Brief details of the cases that formed part of our complaint to the ICO

Case One
An individual ticked ‘Yes’ to the question because the question hadn’t changed, and they didn’t see the accompanying guidance. To them, it was clear what question they were being asked, and so despite their conviction being one that would be filtered, they ticked ‘Yes’ which meant, because they handed the form back to the employer to submit, they had disclosed they had a conviction to the employer. The employer asked further questions about this, and decided to withdraw the job offer.

Case Two
An individual ticked ‘Yes’ to this question because they were not sure whether their conviction would be filtered. As there was no other means of definitively finding out whether it would be filtered or not, they erred on the side of caution and ticked ‘Yes’, believing that, if it would be filtered, it wouldn’t matter what they put. It turned out that their conviction was due to be filtered, but because they had ticked yes, their employer got to find out when they handed the form back, and subsequently decided to withdraw the job offer.


Notes to editors

  1. Press/media
  2. More information relating to the filtering process is available here.

Changes to motor insurance disclosure

Today we took part in a Radio 4 Money Box discussion about changes to motor insurance disclosure, as well as what people need to disclose under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

You can listen to the interview below.

Unlock endorses ‘Ban the box’

Unlock has today lent its support and endorsement to the ‘ban the box’ campaign, which is being led by Business in the Community. The aim of the campaign is to increase the opportunity for people with convictions to compete for jobs.

Christopher Stacey, Co-Director at Unlock, said “We believe that that, by banning the box, employers are better able to consider convictions at a more appropriate stage in the recruitment process, and at the same time are able to give people with convictions a better opportunity to compete for jobs. Far too often we hear from people who are unable to get past the application part of a recruitment process simply because they have to tick ‘yes’ to the questions about convictions. For employers, the end goal has to be to try and find the best person for the job, and with over 9 million people in the UK with a criminal record, banning the box about convictions is one simple step towards this goal.”

“Critically, we believe that it’s important for this campaign to be led by the business community itself, and that’s why we are wholeheartedly behind BITC in their efforts to take this campaign forward. Behind the scenes, we are able to provide confidential advice, support and training to employers on how they can best put the principles of this campaign into practice in their company, using our knowledge and experience of working with both individuals who have convictions as well as employers who are actively looking to improve their recruitment policies and practices.” 

“In so far as our own recruitment process, Unlock has banned the box for both paid and voluntary opportunities. We have a specific policy on the disclosure of convictions, where we explain to applicants that we do not ask about convictions at application stage. We provide individuals who are invited to interview with a self-disclosure form, which we ask them to complete and bring with them to their interview. At the end of the interview, we have a separate discussion where we ask questions about the information they have disclosed on this form, and we make it clear that this will only be considered once we have made a decision about whether they are the right person for the job.” 

More information about Ban the Box from BITC is available from and #BantheBoxUK

Ban the Box Interactive Video

Did you skip? Watch the film again to see the story a different way.

Further delays to changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

Please see below an update that we have received from the Ministry of Justice late last week regarding planned changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Although we’re disappointed to bring you this news, we felt it was important to provide an update as soon as we knew that the situation had formally changed. This will not come as a surprise to some – the lack of an update from Government has led many people to rightly question whether the changes were going to come in by November. A thread has been running on our forum since January this year, questioning originally whether the changes were going to come in by Spring 2013.

Sadly, while it’s frustrating that it is no longer going to be November, the situation is undoubtedly made worse by the lack of a specific future date. To put it simply, although they are optimistic that they will be able to put an end to the uncertainty on the date of commencement fairly soon, they are still unable to give a definite timetable.

In our view, the combination of a delay plus the lack of a specific delay is unforgiveable. When the initial reforms were passed in April 2012, a 12 month window was given to allow the Government time to get the necessary systems in place. The initial implementation date of Spring 2013 led to many people planning their lives on these changes. Our Helpline has been inundated with enquiries ever since from people who are desperately waiting for the changes to come in.

We are continuing to do all that we can so that the Government implement the reforms as soon as possible. We are urging the Government to announce a specific date for when the changes will be introduced. We are also meeting with MP’s with an interest on this issue to see what can be done to speed up this process.

To help, we encourage anybody who is personally affected by these delays, or feels passionately about the way this is being managed by Government, to write to their MP and ask them to raise this issue as a matter of priority with the Ministers of State for both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. You can encourage your MP’s office to contact us directly if they want to help in some way. Ultimately, it’s important that the Government realise how important these changes are, and how many peoples’ lives are being put on hold by these delays. However, the difficulty at this stage is in finding practical ways in which this process can influenced.

Update from the Ministry of Justice

“Whilst the Government was aiming to commence the reforms by November this is not going to be possible but it remains committed to seeing these reforms in place, which will to the benefit of many ex-offenders, and it will give a firm timetable on commencement as soon as it can. As you know, the critical prerequisite for the commencement of the reforms is to put in place a system for producing basic disclosure certificates, which show unspent convictions, reflecting the new rehabilitation periods in England and Wales. Until we do that there would be no way for an individual to obtain an official statement of their unspent convictions under the new rules.


Currently, basic disclosures reflecting the existing rehabilitation periods are available from Disclosure Scotland and this service is provided to residents of England and Wales as well as Scotland. However, the reforms to the ROA only revise rehabilitation periods for England and Wales, leaving the position in Scotland unchanged under its legislation. This complicates matters and creates two different rehabilitation regimes within Great Britain.


One option to address this situation is to agree with Disclosure Scotland that they will provide two differential basic disclosure services, one reflecting the rules in Scotland and the other the rules in England and Wales. Another option is for the Disclosure and Barring Service to initiate a basic disclosure service for England and Wales which adheres to the reformed rules in this jurisdiction. Neither of these options is straightforward and there are significant business and technical issues to work through. However, the Government expects these issues to be resolved shortly.”

New guide published – Unlocking Criminal Record Checks

On a daily basis, our helpline gets calls from people who are applying for work and don’t know where they stand because of criminal record checks that (increasingly) employers are carrying out.

A couple of years ago, we approached the DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service – known as the CRB at that time) and raised this as a matter of concern. They agreed to support the production of a guide, specifically for people with a criminal record, designed to explain in detail the criminal record checking process, with particular focus on the specific issues that people with a criminal record might face.

The result is a detailed guide which was written by Unlock and which was circulated by the DBS (it was announced in DBS News September 2013). Download the guide here or click the image below.

For Unlock, this guide represents a number of things:

  1. The DBS has recognised people with a criminal record as being a particular audience, and have responded by supporting the production and circulation of this guide
  2. During the writing of the guide, Unlock asked a number of questions of the DBS about their processes, and in a number of respects, the DBS have responded by working to improve aspects of their process
  3. In particular, the guide shines a light on the process of ‘eligibility’. The Establish Eligibility Process Flow-chart (page 19) sets out a clear and detailed process for individuals to follow if they believe that an employer might be asking for the wrong level of criminal record check. It also documents the specific ‘Eligibility query’ process that the DBS has in place to respond to concerns around eligibility from individuals
  4. It provides a starting point by which evidence can be collected about how employers and the DBS are dealing with eligibility issues

Since the guide was published, we’ve already started getting feedback from people. A couple of examples include:

People asking questions of employers: “I went into Human Resources and asked why they were asking for enhanced checks. They wasn’t sure, and once I pointed out that a basis disclosure could be used, they were happy to accept this, and changed their policy as a result. Given my criminal record is spent, it means I don’t have to resign, which I feel I would have had to do otherwise”

People using the DBS’s ‘Eligibility query’ process: “My employer was insisting on an enhanced level check for a job working as a door-to-door salesman. I tried to talk to them, but they wouldn’t listen, so I didn’t have any other option but to consent to the check. Following Unlock’s guidance, I raised a query with the DBS, and they looked into it. The outcome of this was that the DBS wrote to my employer saying that they didn’t think that the position was eligible, and that they should do a basic level check. Result!”

This guide is an important first step, but there is still a long way to go to ensure that employers are carrying out the correct level of checks and at the right time.

We’re keen to get your feedback on this guide, and in particular if you’ve tried to make use of the advice contained it in, either in your dealings with an employer or in raising an eligibility query with the DBS.

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 –


Sins of Omission – Ex-offenders get help on knowing when to own up to insurers

The Observer picked up on our launch of the Disclosure Calculator and featured this as an article, looking at how it will help people when applying for insurance. You can read the article below.


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.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

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

Help support us now