News from BIHR...


This week there has been lots of change to the rules on gatherings across the four nations of the UK. Indeed, the law is different in each nation, with different rules applying. We know it can be hard to find the legialtion and to understand what it all means. So, in response to the changes, we have updated all our Lockdown and Police Powers Explainers to reflect the changes and explain what the law is in each nation and what it means for people.

We’ve also updated all our Face Coverings Explainers. Take a read to get up to speed with the rules on face coverings across the UK – where and when they must be worn and who is exempt.

You can find all our plain language Explainers on law and policy during Covid-19 here. We hope you find them helpful!

Our Human Rights Sessions

Our August was 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! Our session on Tuesday with Learning Disability England was a great success. We loved meeting everyone and empowering people to know their rights around restrictive visiting policies, which is such an important topic at the moment. We also really enjoyed our session today (Thursday) with Disability Wales, empowering people to use human rights as a tool for change in their lives or the live of loved ones.

Next week we have sessions with Carers Scotland and social workers in Caerphilly. We’ll be equipping people with strong human rights knowledge to apply to their lives and practice.

BIHR Evidence to the JCHR Inquiry

Throughout July, we were busy gathering evidence through our Communities of Practice platform, surveys and our direct work across the UK. To focus our work, we collected evidence from three groups we work with:

  1. People accessing (or trying to access) health and care;
  2. Staff working in health and care during Covid-19; and
  3. Advocates and campaigners

We are very excited to have published our full reports on the impact of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 for people with care and support needs, with easy read versions of all three reports available too. They make for worrying reading, shining a spotlight on the realities of Covid-19 focussed changes to law, policy and access to care and treatment for people with support needs.

You can access all three reports and easy read versions here


News from Elsewhere...

  1. Boris Johnson 'plans to opt out of human rights laws' amid Brexit row

“Boris Johnson is planning to opt out of parts of the Human Rights Act, according to reports.

The prime minister is said be considering ways to prevent the legislation being used to stop deportations of asylum seekers and prosecutions of British soldiers.

A review of human rights laws has been carried out across Whitehall and its findings will be announced “in the coming weeks”, the Daily Telegraph reported.”

The Independent, 13 September 2020


  1. UK care home residents facing fresh restrictions as Covid infections rise

“Thousands of families of care home residents are facing fresh distress as operators enforce tighter visitor restrictions and lock down homes as Covid-19 infections rise.

Care UK, one of the largest national operators, has already closed 48 of its 124 care homes to visitors, mostly because of positive tests or because it is awaiting test results. HC One, the largest UK operator, said it had recorded increasing numbers of infections among a small number of staff. Some 133 of its homes are now closed to visitors, and it is restricting visits where wider community infection is high.”

 The Guardian, 14 September 2020


  1. NHS tells GPs they must offer patients face-to-face appointments

“GP practices are being told they must make sure patients can be seen face to face when they need such appointments.

NHS England is writing to all practices to make sure they are communicating the fact doctors can be seen in person if necessary, as well as virtually.

It's estimated half of the 102 million appointments from March to July were by video or phone call, NHS Digital said.

The Royal College of GPs said any implication GPs had not been doing their job properly was "an insult".”

BBC News, 14 September 2020

  1. Council failed to consider human rights of couple it separated after 59 years together, says watchdog

“A local authority failed to consider the human rights of an older couple and put them at undue risk of harm by separating them after almost 60 years together, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The watchdog heavily criticised Windsor and Maidenhead council in relation to its treatment of the couple, Mr and Mrs Y, who were separated when she was discharged to a care home in March 2018 following a hospital admission. Mr Y, who had also been in hospital, was discharged home with a care package but quickly deteriorated and died in May 2018.”

Community Care, 15 September 2020


  1. Rule of law under attack, says Law Society

“The rule of law is under attack in Britain, Law Society president Simon Davis said today as the UK Internal Market Bill entered its House of Commons committee stage.

In a strongly worded statement following last night’s commons vote, Chancery Lane said that the steps Britain takes now will set the tone for how we are seen in the world. 

'In 2014 the Department for Education published guidance on promoting fundamental British values in schools, including the rule of law,' Davis said. 'To hear, therefore, this country proposing to breach an agreement just entered into, breaking international law, even if in a "specific and limited way" has been shocking.”

The Law Society Gazette, 15 September 2020

  1. Women hit by state pension age rise lose Court of Appeal case

“Women hit by the state pension age rise have lost their Court of Appeal case against the government.

Almost 4 million women were impacted by the government increasing the state pension age from 60 to 66 for women born after March 1950.

BackTo60, a campaign group calling for women to be reimbursed for pension payments they have missed due to the controversial changes, lost its landmark High Court battle against the government — but appealed the ruling at the end of July.”

The Independent, 15 September 2020


  1. Coronavirus in Scotland: learning disabled go months without seeing family

“Jeane Freeman has said that she will “urgently” look into reports that families of adults with learning disabilities have been unable to see their loved ones for months because of coronavirus restrictions.

The charity Pamis Scotland, which helps people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, has said that some health and social care partnerships have not allowed people to visit relatives in supported accommodation since March.”

The Times, 16 September 2020 (Please note this article is behind a paywall)


  1. Coronavirus: Call for better care home visiting arrangements

“Families are lobbying MSPs about improving "cruel" care home visiting arrangements.

The Care Home Relatives Scotland group wants more access for relatives in care homes to improve the quality of life for residents.

They say restrictions introduced in the wake of the pandemic are damaging.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said she is "constantly concerned" about the balance between protecting residents from Covid-19 and family visits.”

 BBC News (Scotland), 16 September 2020

  1. Judge forces Home Office to cancel deportation flight because asylum seekers faced destitution on arrival

“The Home Office has been forced to cancel a charter flight to Spain after the High Court found that it would place asylum seekers on board at risk of destitution or street homelessness.

Ministers had planned to deport a group of men who recently crossed the English Channel on small boats to Spain on Thursday, two weeks after a group of Syrian deportees were left homeless in Madrid after being removed from the UK.

The judge ordered the flight to be grounded on the grounds that there were serious concerns that the asylum seekers were at risk of becoming destitute on being returned to Spain, which could amount to a breach of their human rights.”

The Independent, 17 September 2020


  1. Coronavirus: 'Rule of six' comes into effect

“Restrictions banning social gatherings of more than six people have come into effect, following a rise in coronavirus cases.

The "rule of six" applies both indoors and outdoors in England and Scotland, and indoors only in Wales.

Restrictions in England affect everyone, but do not include children under 11 in Wales or under 12 in Scotland.

Some Tory MPs have urged No 10 to also exempt young children in England.”

BBC News, 14 September 2020


  1. 'Rule of six' coronavirus laws were published minutes before they came into force as parliament bypassed yet again

“Complex new laws underpinning England’s new “rule of six” coronavirus restrictions were not published until minutes before they came into force.

The late appearance of the new Health Protection Regulations shortly before midnight on Sunday sparked fresh anger over the way ministers are introducing laws to combat the pandemic.

It meant that police officers had no guidance on how to enforce the new restrictions on the first day they were in effect, while there were indications of widespread public confusion over the numerous exemptions to the law.”

The Independent, 15 September 2020