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Tag: employers

How we support employers


In 2015 Unlock started a project, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, focused on fair access to employment. A key part of this work is supporting employers to develop and implement fair and inclusive policies and procedures that enable the recruitment of people with criminal records.


Why is this important?

  • Over 10 million people in the UK have a criminal record, with around a quarter of people claiming unemployment benefits having received a criminal record in the last 10 years, and yet 75% of employers discriminate against applicants on the basis of a criminal record.
  • People with irrelevant criminal records are, as a result, often discouraged from applying for jobs.
  • However, employers cannot afford to ignore the diverse talent of people with criminal records.


Our approach

  • Supporting
    • We support and educate employers to help them to develop and implement fair and inclusive practices towards people with criminal records.
  • Challenging
    • Where necessary, we are a critical friend to employers, asking questions about the impact of policies and approaches on people with criminal records and offering alternatives.


How we can help

  • Advice & Support
    • We work closely with larger employers that are looking to develop significantly fairer and more inclusive ‘whole-organisation’ policies and practices.
    • This support will vary depending on your organisation, but can include support for senior leaders and working in partnership.
    • We work closely with established employer networks such as the ‘Employers Forum for Reducing Reoffending’ and the ‘Ban the Box’ network of employers.
    • Our advice and support is part of a project supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, so it’s at no cost to employers.
  • Resources
  • Training

Issues we help with

We support employers in dealing with questions employers often ask themselves such as:

  • Should we ask about criminal records, and if so, how should we ask?
  • How do we make sure we don’t discourage suitable applicants from applying?
  • How do we decide whether we should employ somebody with a criminal record?
  • What legal issues do we need to be aware of?


For more information

Visit Recruit!, our website for employers.

In particular, there’s a dedicated section on how we support employers.

If you have any questions, you can contact Rachel Tynan, who leads our support for employers.


Training for employers and recruiters

Very impressed – the most useful training that I’ve had as a HR officer in the 10 years I’ve done this job – I’d certainly recommend it to anybody involved in recruitment

HR Manager, Regional logistics company



  • Over 250,000 criminal record checks each year in England & Wales disclose criminal record information.
  • People with criminal records are an untapped talent pool that can help your business get the skills and experiences that you’re struggling to find.
  • Criminal records can be confusing and hard to interpret.
  • The employment vetting process is constantly changing, and it’s hard to keep up as an employer.
  • There are lots of myths when it comes to dealing with people who have criminal records.
  • In some circumstances refusing somebody a role or position because of their criminal record is a criminal offence and could result in court action.

We provide independent and impartial training and support to recruiters, employers, and regulators and admission officers.

Our aim is to help you to make sure that your policies and practices are properly structured so that you’re able to recruit the right person for the right role, in a way that doesn’t unnecessarily exclude people because of their criminal record.


Upcoming training sessions for recruiters

No bookable training sessions are currently available. Our training for practitioners may be useful as an alternative.

If you’d like to run an in-house session for your organisation, find out more below.

Further sessions will be posted here when available. To be notified of when future sessions are available, sign up to receive our email updates.


What we offer

We offer expert training on all issues relating to the collection, disclosure and management of criminal record information, as well as how to go about recruiting people with criminal records.

  • We regularly run sessions that individuals can book places at (see the top at this page for more details).
  • We run ‘in-house’ training for specific organisations. We will work with you to understand your needs, and tailor our training to you. More details are below.


What our training covers

Our training workshops will vary depending on the organisation, but can include:

Legal issues

  • Basic, standard and enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service checks and other forms of employment vetting
  • Eligibility for criminal record checks
  • Establishing what’s spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
  • Filtering of cautions and convictions from standard and enhanced DBS checks

Practical skills and tools

  • Dealing proactively with disclosure – when and how to ask applicants disclose
  • Understanding and interpreting criminal convictions
  • How to make sure you don’t exclude good candidates just because they have a historical criminal record
  • Carrying out effective assessments of disclosed convictions
  • Responding to new convictions

Improving policies

  • Developing internal policies, practices and procedures


Why Unlock? Our credentials

We are recognised as experts

Our training is coordinated by Debbie Sadler, Advice Manager, and Rachel Tynan, policy & practice lead.

We’ve a track record

Over many years, we have worked with a range of employers, from small voluntary sector organisations to large corporate organisations and local/central government. We offer independent and impartial advice, support, and training to employers and HR professionals that are receiving and/or making recruitment decisions based on criminal record information.

Likewise, we’ve helped a number of individuals who have been treated unfairly by employers, so we’re able to pass on this knowledge and experience so that you can avoid similar problems.

We’re independent

We do not deliver Government-contracted services. We’re an independent charity. This means we’re in a unique position to provide impartial advice and guidance.

We’ll work with you

We’ll tailor our training and support to your needs. This can range from developing high-level policies and procedures, to training operational staff in good practice.


Who we work with

Organisations and professionals who deal with criminal records. This includes;

  • All types of employers, from large corporate organisations to small businesses.
  • Public bodies, local authorities and schools.
  • Voluntary sector organisations that recruit staff and volunteers.
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Education providers, such as colleges and Universities
  • Anyone who employs or provides education to people in England & Wales
  • Organisations that are not acting in a ‘recruitment’ capacity, but which deal with criminal records as part of accessing their service, such as housing associations and insurance companies

We regularly work in partnership with other organisations that provide support to employers as recruiters, such as DBS Registered Bodies and umbrella organisations for specific sectors/professions.


Client feedback

“I contacted Unlock because I wanted advice on an individual that we were looking to recruit. They helped me to go through a balanced decision-making process which allowed me to better understand the information that had been disclosed.”

Employer in the health sector

“I was really impressed by the knowledge and understanding that Unlock has. They were able to provide us with support that was tailored to us, and they weren’t biased in their approach – they genuinely supported us as a responsible employer in understanding how best to deal proactively with criminal record information that applicants to us may have”

University Admissions Department

“We ran a training session for our staff that are responsible for recruitment. We didn’t realise how little our staff knew about the criminal records. The workshop helped to break down some of the stereotypes that we had about people who have previous convictions. It also provided our staff with some useful tools that they can take forward when dealing with applicants who have convictions. It’s also given us the confidence to positively address the issue of disclosure, and we’re in the process of taking forward some of the advice Unlock provided us with in terms of improving our policies. This is much needed training for people responsible for recruitment.”

Head of Human Resources, Regional employer in the South East of England

“We worked with Unlock to develop our policies and procedures. We are a large employer in the East Midlands, and although we had policies in place, we realised they weren’t working for us. Unlock provided us with practical support, opening our eyes to things we hadn’t even thought about. They were supportive, but not pushy, and we appreciated the honest and independent support that they were able to provide us with”

Area Manager, East Midlands


To find out more…

If you’re interested in booking an in-house training session, contact

Support for employers

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

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