theInformationHub (hub.unlock.org.uk) is managed by Unlock, an independent charity for people with convictions. It forms part of the practical support that we provide to people with a criminal record. It is part of a group of websites that Unlock manages.

What is it?

The site is designed to be an accessible, easy-to-use way of getting access to self-help information on a wide range of issues that convictions can effect.

theInformationHub is part of Unlock’s ‘Digital by Default’ strategy. As a small charity, we maintain theInformationHub as an effective way of providing accurate information to thousands of people – more than we could reach on a one-to-one basis.

However, given the nature and complexity of some of the areas we cover, we fundraise through donations and grants so that we can keep the site up to date by regularly improving our existing information, and producing latest updates. We also fundraise so that we can run a confidential peer advice helpline, for those with more complex queries, and for those who for some reason, cannot use the site.

How can I support it?

Unlock is the only charity dedicated to supporting law-abiding people with convictions. We do not deliver government-contracted services. Our clients and beneficiaries are often unemployed and in poverty. Every year a quarter of a million people use our services. For a small organisation Unlock makes a big difference. By being independent, we respond to the needs of our clients, but we can’t do this without support, so please consider making a donation.

Areas we provide information, advice and guidance on

We provide information, advice and guidance on a wide 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 information and advice – there is more information below about the areas that we don’t cover and why.

Areas we don’t cover

As a small charity, we specifically focus on the issues and barriers that people face due to criminal records. There are other areas that people contact us about that we don’t cover directly.

Areas we only provide information on

There are some areas that we are unable to provide advice or guidance on, but we provide information pages on this site to help provide some brief information and point people in the right direction. Where we do this, we’ll make it clear that we’re unable to provide any further information, advice or guidance. Comments on these pages will be disabled. Some of the specific areas are explained below.

Areas we’re unable to provide information, advice or guidance on

There are a number of areas that we are unable to provide information, advice or guidance on. Some of the specific areas are explained below.

Specific issues and how we cover them

Issues not relating to convictions or cautions – e.g. community resolutions & allegations

Criminal convictions and formal cautions involve an admission (or finding) of guilt, and are recorded on the Police National Computer as an official criminal record. The problems that people face as a result of these is the remit of Unlock as a charity.

There are many informal disposals, such as community resolutions and cannabis warnings, which do not involve an admission of guilt. There is also a significant number of people with allegations and other information held on them by the police, and are worried about them being disclosed to employers on enhanced checks. Details of these may be recorded by the police, but the issues that might arise from these are not within the remit of Unlock, nor this information site.

Issues people with convictions face that are not linked to their criminal record

There are many issues that people in prison, on licence and in the community face. Some of these issues relate to their criminal record, and that’s what we provide information and advice on through this site. Other issues, such as training opportunities, funding and benefits are areas where a criminal record doesn’t directly have an impact, and so on these issues we provide information only.

The laws of other countries and jurisdictions – e.g. Scotland & Northern Ireland

Our information and advice covers England & Wales only. We get lots of queries from people in other places, and we’re unable to give specific advice as the laws and rules are different. Click here for details of organisations that cover different places.

Appeals against conviction

We are unable to assist people who are looking to appeal against their conviction or the sentence that they received. You will need to seek legal advice on the merits of your case, and whether you would be entitled for legal aid. However, there are time limits on when you are able to bring an appeal.

Prison issues

As a small charity, we focus on the issues that people face once they’ve served their sentence and are trying to get on with their life in the community. For help with prison issues, click here for some information and links to useful organisations.

People who are facing a conviction or worried about a sentence they might receive

As a small charity, we focus on the issues that people face once they’ve served their sentence and are trying to get on with their life in the community. We’re unable to give information, advice or support to people who have been arrested, charged or awaiting to go to court. If you’re worried about a prison sentence in particular, there are some links to resources for those in this situation.

The difference between information, advice and guidance

We provide information throughout this site, even on areas we don’t really cover as a charity.

We provide advice and guidance on areas that we do cover – although the difference between these two phrases is important.

Technically, all our information, advice and guidance is provided on a strictly ‘without-liability’ basis. This means we don’t assume responsibility. The phrase ‘advice’ is often used in regulated areas (such as ‘financial advice’) where an adviser is sharing much more of the responsibility than somebody that is simply guiding someone towards the available options and allowing them to make their own decisions.

However, we know that a lot of people are looking for more than just information and guidance, which is why we provide advice. This is not regulated advice – and we will, wherever possible, make it clear that we’re simply trying to support individuals in making decisions for themselves after understanding the situation as best as possible.

Help provided to organisations that support individuals

Many of the resources we provide are specifically funded by charitable trusts and foundations to provide information, advice and support directly to people with convictions.

It is, however important, for us to work closely with organisations so that they are better able to help their clients that have criminal records. Please feel free to use our this information site and our other websites, as well as getting copies of our materials. You can also look at the training that we provide.

For further information about the work we do with organisations, visit our approach to working with other organisations.