2 December 2021

Social workers have written a letter to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, opposing inhuman and unlawful draft guidance which has recently been published in support of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) is the UK independent professional membership organisation for social work which represents the voices of 22,000 social workers. BASW, the Social Workers Union, the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association, and other partner organisations including BIHR have co-signed the letter, which is available to read here.

In the letter, organisations express serious concerns that the recently published Home Office Statutory Guidance for Police on Unauthorised Encampments will discriminate against Romani and Traveller communities.

Under the matter of welfare issues, the guidance says that ‘the police, alongside other public bodies, should not gold-plate human rights and equalities legislation’. We do not accept that this is reasonable guidance. The wording is of no assistance to social workers or other professionals. There is no reasonable legal or policy meaning to the term ‘gold plate’ and it has no place in important statutory guidance.

Click here to read the letter.

What does the letter say about human rights?

"The guidance has contradictory and inappropriate statements on equalities and human rights and as it stands is both inhumane and unlawful.

Additionally, if the law does pass, both guidance issued by Government departments and the actions of public bodies including the police, are still subject to the legal duty in s.6 of the Human Rights Act to act compatibly with people’s human rights. The current guidance suggests that compliance with both equality and human rights law is optional; that is not the case, all must abide by the rule of law, including public bodies and Government departments."

Where can I find out more?

  • Click here to read BASW's press release about the letter.
  • Click here to find BASW's template letter for people to raise this issue with their local MP.
  • The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is progressing through parliament. Click here to see what stage it is at.
  • Click here to watch a video from Friends, Families and Travellers about what the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill mean for Gypsies and Travellers.
  • Click here for a Twitter thread from Liberty talking through the Government's amendments to the Policing Bill
  • Click here for a real life story of how the Human Rights Act outside of a courtroom to keep Irish Traveller families together.

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