8 September 2016

It has been revealed that the government contract to deliver the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) has been awarded to G4S. The EASS is the national helpline which provides people within information about equality and human rights issues, providing an important service for everyone, including some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

The recent Government decision to appoint G4S to provide the EASS has raised a number of concerns from a range of groups. Over 40 organisations have raised the issue with the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Minister responsible to commissioning the EASS, a legal action is being brought by the Law Centres Network, and an online public petition has received over 55,000 signatures.

Commenting on the situation, Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights said:

“Ensuring that people across Great Britain have access to good quality, independent information about their human rights is a vital part of ensuring our country’s commitment to fairness.

The Government’s decision to appoint G4S as the provider of the national helpline on discrimination and human rights raises a number of concerns.

Perhaps the most worrying question is the impact it will have on people whose rights may be at risk from services provided by G4S themselves, including those involved in the justice system, immigration, welfare benefit schemes and education. It seems people will now be expected to call a G4S-run advice line to find out whether their rights have been put at risk by a G4S-run service. The old saying of justice not just being done but being seen to be done, rings somewhat hollow.”