How the criminal justice system is failing disabled people
Earlier this month we published the results of our Inclusive
Justice ( [link removed] ) inquiry into whether the criminal justice system treats
disabled people fairly, particularly those with cognitive
impairments, mental health conditions and neuro-diverse
conditions. The full inquiry report follows the publication of
interim findings in April, as the coronavirus pandemic caused a
large uptick in remote hearings.
Our inquiry found that the system is not systematically
recognising the needs of disabled people, meaning defendants and
accused people risk not being able to participate properly in the
We also found that increased digitalisation of the system
threatens disabled people’s access to justice, as it risks them
being even less able to understand what is happening than when
they are participating in person. We have therefore stressed the
urgency of reform of the system to meet disabled people’s needs,
in turn improving it for all court users.
The report makes five accompanying recommendations to the UK and
Scottish Governments and relevant agencies:
* ensure departments and executive agencies address gaps in the
collection, monitoring and analysis of disability data, and
ensure there is clear regulatory oversight to monitor their
* develop early and effective screening for all defendants and
accused people and give consideration to how screening might work
for those involved in criminal proceedings where the route does
not involve the police and/or custody
* ensure timely access and sharing of information
* support the duty to make reasonable adjustments and respect
fair trial rights
* ensure initial professional qualification training for law
students includes disability awareness, all relevant codes of
conduct and standards are amended to specifically include
disability awareness as a professional requirement, and
disability awareness is a mandatory element of continuing
professional development for those working in criminal law.
Read the inquiry report and recommendations ( [link removed] )
Learn more about delivering inclusive justice
Following publication of our Inclusive Justice report and the
rise in virtual hearings during the coronavirus pandemic, we are
joining other legal experts for two forthcoming webinars on how
to ensure inclusive justice.
Remote Hearings: Risks and Opportunities for Effective
EHRC Scotland will be joined by Scottish legal experts to
explore the risks and opportunities for equality & human rights
with the expansion of remote hearings in the justice system.
This event will be of interest to civil and criminal legal
practitioners, organisations which support court and tribunal
users and to academics with an interest in access to justice
Free webinar on Thu 2 July 15.00-16.30.
Book now ( [link removed] )
Virtual hearings - discriminatory justice or a revolution in
Join Transform Justice and speakers, including Angus Cleary from
the EHRC, to discuss the rise in virtual criminal hearings and
During the pandemic more and more defendants have appeared on
video from police stations and prisons, and few lawyers have been
able to consult with their clients face to face. Panellists will
explore the effect this has on justice.
Free webinar on Wed 8 July 17.00-18.30
Book now ( [link removed] )
Alex Preston video ( [link removed] )
As part of our inquiry into whether the justice system treats
disabled defendants fairly, we spoke to Alex Preston, a criminal
defence solicitor from Olliers Solicitors. Here, she shares her
experience of representing disabled clients and those with mental
health conditions in the criminal justice system.
Black Lives Matter
Inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on black and ethnic
The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on long-standing,
structural race inequality in Britain, and raised serious issues
that have yet to be fully answered. Because of this, the
Commission is to undertake an inquiry into the impact of the
pandemic on black and other ethnic minority people.
This in-depth analysis will help develop clear, evidence-based
recommendations for urgent action to tackle entrenched racial
inequalities in a specific area. It will also take account of the
differences and opportunities in England, Scotland and Wales.
The decision to use our legal powers in this way builds on our
previously published Roadmap to Race Equality ( [link removed] ), which called for a government-wide strategy to address
long-standing racial inequalities in all areas of life, focusing
on education, employment, health, housing and criminal justice.
These underlying inequalities are deep-rooted issues that we
identified in our report Healing a Divided Britain ( [link removed] ), and have been thrown into sharp focus and exacerbated by the
coronavirus pandemic. We will focus on a specific area to
highlight the cumulative impacts on people from different ethnic
minorities and recommend the urgent action that needs to be
taken. This will help to ensure these inequalities are tackled
once and for all, so that the disproportionate impact we have
seen can never happen again. Terms of the inquiry setting out the
detail will be published in the coming weeks.
Find out more ( [link removed] )
Commission uses legal powers to review Home Office actions
affecting the Windrush generation
Following the publication of the Williams Windrush Lessons
Learned Review ( [link removed] ) earlier this spring, we are taking legal action to review how
the Home Office complied with equality law when implementing the
‘hostile environment’ immigration measures that had such a
damaging effect on many of the Windrush generation and their
The Home Office has publicly acknowledged that the treatment of
thousands of Commonwealth citizens who were invited from the
Caribbean to help re-build post-war Britain was unacceptable, and
has committed to acting on the recommendations made by the
We are now using our legal powers to inform this process, by
launching an assessment under Section 31 of the Equality Act 2006
to examine whether, and how, the Home Office complied with the
Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in relation to understanding
the impact of its policies on the Windrush generation. We will
develop recommendations based on our assessment. These will then
be used to inform the Home Office’s policies and procedures in
We will particularly consider how the department understood,
monitored and reviewed the impact on the Windrush generation of
placing more onerous documentation requirements on this group.
Our work will draw upon the findings of the Williams Review to
help drive improvements in how the Home Office engages with
affected individuals, communities and stakeholders when designing
future immigration policies. The Review’s findings will also help
to signpost other areas where more evidence from the Home Office
may be required.
We have provided the Home Office with a terms of reference and
full details on the assessment will be published soon. We expect
our assessment to be concluded by late September 2020.
Find out more ( [link removed] )
How SMEs can embrace equality and inclusion through coronavirus
The last few months have been extremely challenging for all
businesses and at the Commission we've provided guidance so
employers can ensure they are not being discriminatory as they
respond to the pandemic. We recently took part in a CBI webinar
with business leaders from small and medium enterprises and our
Compliance Director Jackie Killeen has written an article
summarising what SMEs should consider.
Read Jackie's advice ( [link removed] )
Watch the webinar ( [link removed] )
Quote from David Isaac
Recruitment starts for new Commission Chair and board members
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has announced that it is
beginning recruitment for a new Chair of the Equality and Human
Rights Commission and up to four Non-executive Commissioners.
The move comes as the tenure of our current Chair, David Isaac
(pictured above), comes to an end in August.
It is expected that appointments will be made this winter.
Current Deputy Chair, Caroline Waters, will assume the role of
Interim Chair and current board member, Susan Johnson, will take
the role of Interim Deputy Chair upon David’s departure and until
the new appointments are confirmed.
As part of the recruitment process, it is hoped a new Wales
Commissioner will also be appointed to our board, as Alison
Parken steps down as Interim Wales Commissioner.
The GEO sponsors the EHRC and as a result the Minister for Women
& Equalities has statutory responsibility for appointing 10 to 15
Commissioners, including the Chair and the Wales and Scotland
Recruitment for the roles has begun today and applications will
be taken until August 3rd 2020.
Apply for Chair role ( [link removed] )
Apply for Commissioner role ( [link removed] )
Apply for Wales Commissioner role ( [link removed] )