News from BIHR

The Human Rights Act Review: we responded!

On 13th January 2021, the Government’s Independent Review of the Human Rights Act (HRA) opened a call for evidence, looking at how the HRA is working in practice and whether any change is needed. The call for evidence closed last week, and we responded!

At BIHR, we see the value of the Human Rights Act every day in our work with people accessing services, community and advocacy groups and staff working in public services. The Human Rights Act is, in its current form, an incredibly powerful tool which has the power to create a culture of respect for human rights in the UK. Since the passing of the Human Rights Act, for over 20 years, we at BIHR have been supporting the operationalisation of the Act with rights holders and duty bearers. Our experience shows us that there is still a long way to go until a culture of respect for human rights becomes a reality for all of us, here in the UK.

Our submission makes it clear, however, that the route to making human rights real for everyone is not through more legislative reviews of our Human Rights Act but through human rights leadership, at all levels, ensuring that the Human Rights Act is understood and implemented every day, in every interaction a person has with public services. 

Find out more and read our submission to the Independent Human Rights Act Review here!


We are also building a bank of evidence with the responses of other organisations on our website here. It is so important to record the evidence given to the Review so that it can be read, shared and revisited when further reviews of or conversations about the HRA inevitably come about. Get in touch with your response, we can add it to our page! Contact our Research & Comms Assistant Jo on [email protected] Share your evidence and continue to be part of the conversation!

In response to the Review, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is also gathering evidence. You can still make a submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry until 22 March 2021. Find our support to write a submission here.

The Mental Health Act Reform and Human Rights

The Mental Health Act 1983 is a piece of legislation in England and Wales setting out when people can be detained and hospitalised for mental health treatment. Following an independent review in 2017 which found that the Act did not work as well as it should do, the government published a White Paper in January 2021 on plans to change and update the Mental Health Act, and there is now an open consultation process on the proposed changes. You can read more about the proposed reforms in our plain language Explainer here.

The consultation closes on the 21 April 2021. We are holding two sessions with partners NSUN (the National Survivor User Network) to give people an opportunity to share their views and experiences of working with the Act or accessing mental health services, and to and learn more about the Mental Health Act White Paper consultation process. Follow the links below to book onto the relevant session:

  1. For mental health professionals and advocates/campaigners (26 March)
  2. For people accessing, trying to access or who have accessed mental health services (and their loved ones) (1 April)


News from Elsewhere...

  1. People denied entitlement to continuing healthcare because of assessment backlog, experts warn

    "Pressure to clear backlogs is leading to unfair decisions, while some commissioners are wrongly screening people out of consideration for CHC funding, say leading lawyer and CHC consultant."

    Community Care, 8 March 2021


  1. Man left in care home for five months was denied basic human rights

    "Nottinghamshire County Council left a man in a care home for five months without having regard for his basic human rights, a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation has found."

    Care Home Professional, 8 March 2021


  1. Warning over photo ID law change for UK-wide and English elections

    "Changing the law to force people to show photo ID to take part in UK elections will be catastrophic for ethnic minority communities, increasing barriers to access and in effect disenfranchising them, equality and democracy campaigners have warned."

    The Guardian, 9 March 2021


  1. Covid-19: Families 'denied care home visits' despite new policy

    "Families are still being denied visits to elderly relatives in care homes despite the success of the Covid-19 vaccine programme, NI's older people's commissioner has claimed."

    BBC News (NI), 10 March 2021


  1. Court backlogs having ‘major consequences for victims’, watchdog says as trials scheduled in 2023

    "Court backlogs are having “major consequences for victims and witnesses”, a watchdog has found, as criminal trials are being scheduled for 2023."

    The Independent, 9 March 2021


  1. Asylum seekers at high-risk of self-harm held in ‘uninhabitable’ self-isolation block in Napier Barracks

    "Damning findings by immigration and prisons watchdogs reveal ‘inadequate’ support for residents who self-harmed at military site and litany of failings by Home Office to comply with guidance and recognise risks."

    The Independent, 8 March 2021

  1. Challenge against blanket ban on public worship begins tomorrow

    "The advice that the Scottish government relied on to justify the ban on public worship will come under court scrutiny at a two-day hearing this week."

    Scottish Legal News, 10 March 2021

Thanks for reading!

There has been a lot of sad human rights news this week, and we know it can be overwhelming. Why not take a moment to read our blog, Value of Human Rights in Health and Social Care: from Covid-19 and beyond, to remind yourself and reflect on the value that human rights have in helping us achieve dignified and independent lives.