29 October 2020

News from BIHR

BIHR responds to the Independent Review of Administrative Law

On Friday, we submitted evidence to the Independent Review of Administrative Law's call for evidence.

The Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL) is a panel set up by the Government to review the judicial review process. Our submission shows that judicial review is a crucial mechanism for protecting and respecting the human rights of people in the UK. Judicial review protects not only the people that are directly affected by a decision that is made by public bodies but all of us, by helping to ensure there is a human rights culture in the UK. 

Find out more about our evidence submission here!

Our Lunch and Learns!

This week we hosted our second ever monthly Lunch and Learn! Our Lunch and Learns are informal monthly lunchtime chats about human rights with a member of the BIHR team. These discussions focus around a different theme or right each month, and act as a space to allow people to discuss and ask questions about the human rights issues they’re facing in their life or work. There are three separate, protected discussions for:

  1. People and families;
  2. Staff; and
  3. Advocates and campaigners.

October’s Lunch and Learn focussed on the right to family life, and the following are some of the questions people asked:

  • Visiting policies: what happens if we go into tier 3 & the care home stops out outdoor visits - is this lawful, how do we challenge?
  • Adapted housing: waiting for an adaptation to house for more than 6 months, Covid used as the reason for delay, does this impact my rights?
  • Waiting for an assessment for my daughter since February, what do I do?
  • Easements: how do we as staff challenge easements under Covid legislation?
  • Access only to single bed facilities: does this impact disabled people's right to family life?

Our November Lunch and Learn will look at the right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. Access to these sessions is EXCLUSIVE to members of our Communities of Practice. Join now to book your place!


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 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.

News from Elsewhere...

1. High court condemns lack of provisions in UK for suicidal teenager

"Not a single secure bed was available anywhere in the UK last week for a suicidal teenager, according to a high court ruling that highlights the chronic shortage of accommodation to support the country’s most vulnerable children.

Lord MacDonald said the lack of places – partly caused by Covid-19 restrictions – left him facing a “stark choice” either to send the 16-year-old girl to an unregulated placement – meaning she would not inspected – or into the community “where she will almost certainly cause herself possibly fatal harm”."

The Guardian, 27 October 2020

 2. UK Covid policy for children in detention 'cruel and inhumane', says UN expert

"The UK government’s policy of allowing children in detention to be locked alone in their cells for up to 23 hours a day under emergency Covid-19 measures is “extreme and inhumane” and could lead to lifelong mental health damage, according to the UN special rapporteur on torture and leading child health experts.

Since March, facilities have been able to keep children as young as 12 confined alone in their cells for all but around 40 minutes a day. The measures, which were put in place to stop potential Covid-19 outbreaks, affect around 500 under 18-year-olds in youth detention and another 4,000 18-21-year-olds held in adult prisons."

The Guardian, 27 October 2020

3. Patients discharged from hospitals without Covid test results

"A majority of patients discharged from hospital reported having care needs that were not being met.

Almost half of hospital patients have been discharged without receiving the results of their coronavirus test – including some patients who were sent to care homes, new research has revealed.

Independent national patient body Healthwatch England said it had learned many patients were discharged from hospitals between March and August this year without proper assessments with many vulnerable people sent home without medication, equipment or the care they needed."

The Independent, 27 October 2020

4. Babies being removed from mothers during remote hearings – report

"New mothers are having their babies taken into care during remote video and phone hearings from hospital, according to a report on justice during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parents are also joining online proceedings from home – often without adequate technology or support – when life-changing decisions are made about their children, the study commissioned by the president of the family division of the high court, Sir Andrew McFarlane, reveals."

The Guardian, 27 October 2020

Overhaul needed to end ‘inhumane’ hospital care of people with learning disabilities or autism, says CQC

"The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has demanded a fundamental overhaul of services for people with autism, learning disabilities and/or mental health conditions after finding “undignified, inhumane” hospital care in which many people are subjected to prolonged seclusion and unnecessary restraint.

The damning verdict came in a government-commissioned review into restraint, seclusion and segregation published today, the latest in a long line of reports to urge systemic change in services for people with autism and learning disabilities, through investment in community care to prevent admissions and ensure hospital stays are a last resort, of short duration and therapeutic."

Community Care, 22 October 2020

6. 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


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.

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