News from BIHR

Our new staff!

This week we welcomed a brand new staff member to the team. Katrina is our new Human Rights Officer, and will join Eilidh in delivering our human rights sessions to lots of different groups. Find out more about Katrina and the rest of our staff team here!

Our Human Rights Sessions

October 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.

This week we’ve had a great time working with local authority health and care teams and community groups across the country. On Monday, our Human Rights Officer Eilidh was (virtually!) in the North East of England delivering a session on human rights in inpatient mental health services for adult & older persons. On Wednesday, Eilidh delivered a different session to a domestic abuse charity, supporting staff who work to support & empower those affected by domestic abuse to know and use human rights in their work.

Find out more about our work here!


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 recent Explainer on the new self-isolation law in England and our updated Explainer on the lockdown laws in England, featuring a handy table explaining the different rules on gatherings in the different tiers.  We’ve also put together an Explainer on the CQC’s recent report, ‘State of Care 2019/20’, which assessed the state and quality of care in England over the past year – you can read our Explainer here.

BIHR Overview of the 6-month Review of the Coronavirus Act

In the final week of September, 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. 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, but with some assurances from the Government that they will commit to greater levels of scrutiny in the future. Read our press release of the Outcome of the Review to know more about what was debated and discussed in the Houses of Parliament.


News from Elsewhere...

  1. Valuing voices: Protecting rights through the pandemic and beyond report

“This new report highlights that disabled people and care home residents have seen their human rights breached, and access to independent advocacy and health and social care reduced, during the coronavirus pandemic.  We need to ensure that we do not witness a repeat of these breaches, as the second wave of coronavirus sweeps over much of the UK.”

n-compass, 20 October 2020 (you can read the report here)


  1. CQC report: Care of people with learning disabilities 'inhumane'

“Too many hospitals for people with learning disabilities or autism are providing poor care which is, at times, undignified and inhumane, the care regulator for England has said.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found physical restraint part of the culture in some places, and cases of patients secluded or segregated for 13 years.

It said national change was needed to stop people "falling through the gaps".”

BBC News, 22 October 2020


  1. Face-to-face DoLS assessments strongly discouraged in high-risk Covid areas

“Practitioners should only carry out face-to-face Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) assessments “in exceptional circumstances” in areas covered by tier 2 and 3 Covid-19 restrictions.

In those higher-risk areas – which, as of tomorrow, will cover half of England’s population – best interests and mental health assessors should use remote techniques to communicate with the person, says the updated Covid-19 guidance on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and Mental Capacity Act.”

Community Care, 16 October 2020


  1. Equality gains in the UK risk being reversed by coronavirus, says EHRC

“Hard-won gains in equality and human rights in the UK are at risk of being reversed by the coronavirus pandemic, and society, the economy and living standards are facing long-lasting damage, the UK human rights watchdog has said.

A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission says young people, ethnic minorities, older people and disabled people have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, which has highlighted and widened existing inequalities.”

The Guardian, 20 October 2020


  1. ‘Worrying’ rise in ‘inadequate’ inpatient care for people with autism and learning disabilities

“There has been a “worrying” increase in the proportion of ‘inadequate’ inpatient services for people with autism and learning disabilities, primarily in the independent sector, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found. 

In its annual report on the state of health and social care, the regulator said it continued to find “more poor care” in inpatient wards for people with a learning disability and/or autistic people.”

 Community Care, 19 October 2020

 You can read our Explainer on the CQC's State of Care report here.

  1. Appeal court quashes UK policy of removing migrants with little warning

“The court of appeal has quashed a Home Office policy of removing migrants from the UK without access to justice.

In a unanimous decision, three judges found the policy, which allowed the forcible removal of a migrant from the UK sometimes within hours and in many cases without access to lawyers, to be unlawful.

More than 40,000 removals were affected by the policy, resulting in vulnerable people being put at risk. Some were recognised as having been removed unlawfully, were brought back to the UK and granted leave to remain.”

The Guardian, 21 October 2020

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.

Thanks for reading!