News from BIHR

BIHR Briefs the Houses of Parliament for the 6-month Review of the Coronavirus Act

This week, the Coronavirus Act was debated in both Houses of Parliament and voted on in the Commons for its 6-month review. We briefed both Houses before the review to present our work during Covid-19. Since lockdown, we have supported over 700 people accessing public services including their families and friends, and over 1000 people working in health and care services, advocates and campaigners. Our briefings share evidence from our work. It shows that since the Act came in, decisions across the UK, by Governments and in local areas, have compromised people’s rights. This ranges from withdrawing vital care and support that many people rely on to keep safe and well, through to refusals of treatment based on people’s age or disability. You can read our briefings here.

We urged the Government: preserve human rights and restore scrutiny or scrap the Coronavirus Act.

The Coronavirus Act was renewed in Parliament last night, but with some assurances from the Government that they will commit to greater levels of scrutiny in the future.

Our involvement in a campaign around the Coronavirus Act was covered in the news: Emergency powers law ‘lasting threat to human rights’, charities warn (the Independent, 27 September 2020)

 

 

Our Human Rights Sessions

September has been very busy indeed with lots of human rights sessions, delivered to Local Councils or in partnership with other organisations. We really enjoy delivering human rights sessions as a chance to engage with lots of different groups of people across the country and help them understand more about human rights and what they mean.

September is no different! This week we’ve had a great time working with #Right2Home to test for the third time a new co-produced tool aiming to empower family/friends of loved ones who are autistic and/or have learning disabilities to challenge unlawful visiting restrictions. We ran one workshop last week with people facing such restrictions, and a second workshop this week. With Covid-19 resulting in blanket ban visiting policies and other concerning practices, we’re pleased to be involved in testing this very important piece of work.

This week we also delivered human rights sessions to professionals working in health and social care to empower them to see their work as human rights work and apply their knowledge of human rights law every day, including:

  • Social workers from Worcestershire County Council
  • Staff from Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership.

 

Explainers

During the pandemic, we’ve been working hard to translate the huge amount of new law which has been passed into plain language Explainers which explain the law across the UK and how it impacts human rights.

You can find all our law and policy Explainers on our Coronavirus hub, including our most recent Explainer on the new self-isolation law in England. We’ve also put together an Explainer on the Joint Committee on Human Rights Report on The Government's response to COVID-19: human rights implications – you can read it here. We have also updated our Explainer on hospital discharge during Covid-19 to reflect new Government guidance released earlier this month – read it here.

News from Elsewhere...

  1. Report raises alarm over police detention of vulnerable suspects in England and Wales

“Police officers detained and interviewed hundreds of thousands of vulnerable suspects last year in England and Wales in breach of mandatory safeguards, according to the body that sets standards for those who support vulnerable adults in police custody.

The failure by officers to provide an appropriate adult (AA) to people with mental illness, autism or learning disabilities leaves those people at risk of miscarriages of justice, suicide and self-harm, the National Appropriate Adult Network (Naan) says in a report published on Monday.”

The Guardian, 28 September 2020

 

  1. Self-isolation law puts disabled adults at risk of prosecution or unreasonable force, warn experts

“A law enforcing self-isolation to control coronavirus risks subjecting those who lack capacity to comply to criminalisation or unreasonable force, legal and human rights experts have warned.

The regulations – which were published on Sunday evening and came into force on Monday without parliamentary scrutiny – also potentially created risks for care workers should they be expected to ensure people they support comply with directions to self-isolate, critics said.

The law introduces fines starting at £1,000 for a first offence, rising to £10,000 per offence from the fourth case onwards, for those who fail to comply with requirements to self-isolate.”

Community Care, 1 October 2020

Our Director, Sanchita, contributed to this Community Care article!

 

  1. Care home coronavirus outbreaks cast doubt on official PHE data

“The UK’s largest care home provider has had Covid outbreaks in 70 of its facilities, prompting questions about whether official figures on the virus’s return to social care may be too low.

As care leaders issued fresh warnings about testing delays, HC-One said it had closed one in five of its 329 homes because of outbreaks and that 20 homes had seen new outbreaks in the last fortnight.

Bupa also told the Guardian that in the last 28 days people had tested positive at 21 of its homes – almost one in six of its 130 locations – while Care UK has had positive tests at 19 of its 110 homes.”

The Guardian, 30 September 2020

 

  1. Deaths from natural causes in English and Welsh prisons 'unacceptably high'

“The number of deaths from natural causes on the prison estate is “unacceptably high”, a watchdog has warned, urging ministers to do more to allow inmates to be allowed out to die.

 

The average age of an inmate dying a “natural death” is 56, compared with 81 in the general population, the Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) on Deaths in Custody said.

 

The number of such deaths in prison has also increased from 103 in 2009 to 179 in 2020, the panel said in a letter to justice and health ministers in which they called for improved access to healthcare for inmates to avoid preventable deaths.”

 The Guardian, 30 September 2020

  1. 'Insult to grieving families' as probe into Covid patients sent to care homes delayed

“The publication of a crucial report examining how many elderly people who had tested positive for coronavirus were transferred into Scottish care homes has been delayed, in a move condemned as an insult to bereaved families.”

The Telegraph, 28 September 2020 (please note, this article is behind a paywall)