The right to private and family life, home and correspondence is protected by Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

How might this right be relevant to my life? 

Some examples when your right to private and family life, home and correspondence. might be at risk include: 

  • If your wellbeing (mental or physical health) is at risk.
  • If you are not being involved in decisions over your own body and life, including your care or treatment.
  • When a public authority is interfering with a your right to determine your sexual orientation, your lifestyle, and the way you look and dress.
  • When ongoing contact with family members or relationships with others has been stopped or restricted.
  •  If there is a big intrusion into your private information or data.
  • If a public official discloses your confidential information.

Can my right to private and family life, home and correspondence be restricted by a public official? 

Yes. But if a public official is deciding to restrict your right, they must go through a test. They must be able to show that the decision is:

 

Lawful:

There must be a law which allows public officials to take that action or decision.

Legitimate:

There is a good reason (for example public safety or protecting the rights of other people, including your family members or staff).

Proportionate:

They have thought about other things they could do, but there is no other way to protect you or other people. It must be the least restrictive option.

You can ask the public official about their decision or action and nd ask them to tell you how it was lawful, legitimate and proportionate.

If you can think of a way to deal with this situation or decision that is less restrictive to you then you can raise it with the public official as the decision may not be proportionate.

 

What duties do public officials have? 

 

To respect your right: 

This means that public officials should only do things that restrict your right to private and family life when they need to.

To protect your right: 

This means that public officials should do things to protect you or other people and make sure you are involved in decisions that affect your life and rights.



To fulfil your right: 

This means that when decisions are made about your right and life you must be treated fairly. When things go wrong they should be investigated and steps should be taken to try and stop the same thing happening again.

 

Tim and Sylvia’s Story 

 

 

Yolande’s Story  

Yolande and her children were fleeing domestic violence, and her husband’s attempts to track them down as they moved from town to town across the UK. Time and again the family would be uprooted, having to move on every time he discovered their whereabouts.

Eventually, they arrived in London, and were referred to social services in their borough. However, what could have been the family’s first reprieve after months of uncertainty and fear turned into another ordeal in itself. Social workers told Yolande that the constant moving of her children meant she was an unfit parent and that she had made the family intentionally homeless. They said that they had no choice but to place her children in foster care.

A support worker helped Yolande to challenge social services’ decision. Yolande said she thought the decision had failed to respect her own right to respect for family life, and the right to family life of her children.

Looking at the situation from a human rights perspective helped change the conversation. Social services reconsidered the issue, taking the family’s human rights into account, and worked with Yolande and her children to find a suitable solution. They all agreed that the family would remain together, and that social services would help cover some of the essential costs of securing private rented accommodation.

For Yolande and her children, being supported to find a new home was an essential step in rebuilding a new life in safety after a distressing and turbulent time.

This real-life story was shared with BIHR by the voluntary organisation involved.

Watch a video of BIHR staff talking about the right to private and family life, home and correspondence