Draft Terms of Reference

Final Terms of Reference now released

Prior to issuing the Terms of Reference for our Inquiry, we consulted on this set of draft Terms of Reference. The consultation responses were analysed and a summary of responses is now available. Final Terms of Reference are now available to view, while this page has been maintained as an archive.

Draft Terms of Reference for our Inquiry into the elimination of disability related harassment, and consultation on these terms


Although public authorities have a responsibility under the Disability Equality Duty to have due regard to eliminating disability related harassment, the term is not defined for the purposes of the Duty.

We propose to use the following definition of disability related harassment within this Inquiry: 

Unwanted, exploitative or abusive conduct on the grounds of disability which has the purpose or effect of either:

  • violating the dignity, safety, security or autonomy of the person experiencing it, or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment.

Harassment may involve repeated forms of unwanted and unwarranted behaviour but a one-off incident can also amount to harassment.

The Inquiry will include disability related harassment of both disabled people themselves and of their family, friends and associates. However in order for there to be a clear focus for the Inquiry the Commission proposes to exclude both harassment in the workplace and domestic violence.

For the purposes of the Inquiry, the Commission proposes to use the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) definition of a disabled person, which is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The Inquiry will also investigate harassment against people perceived to be disabled.

Geographical scope:

The Inquiry will cover England, Scotland and Wales. 

Draft Terms of reference:

  1. To inquire into steps taken by public authorities, singly and jointly to eliminate disability related harassment
  2. To inquire into steps taken by public authorities, singly and jointly,  to address the causes of disability related harassment including prejudice and negative attitudes
  3. To inquire into the effectiveness of the steps taken by public authorities, singly or jointly, to eliminate disability related harassment and address its causes
  4. To inquire into how  public authorities, singly and jointly, have  ensured the involvement of disabled people in eliminating disability related harassment and addressing its causes, including steps taken to enable disabled people to  effectively report  disability related harassment
  5. To identify examples of good practice in eliminating disability related harassment and addressing its causes and effective means of disseminating such good practice
  6. To make such recommendations as are appropriate
  7. In carrying out the inquiry the Commission will, where relevant,  have regard to the extent to which the public authorities concerned have:
    1. complied with their duties in relation to the Disability Equality Duty set out in s.49A and s.49D of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, including in particular those elements of the duty relating to the elimination of disability related harassment and its causes, the promotion of positive attitudes towards disabled people and the duty to encourage the participation of disabled people in public life.
    2. complied with any obligations arising under the Human Rights Act 1998
    3. are aware of their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in particular Article 16 of that Convention, and the degree to which they have taken action to fulfil them.
  8. The Inquiry will consider steps carried out directly by public authorities; those carried out through private and voluntary sector organisations; and issues relating to procurement relevant to the Inquiry’s terms of reference. 

We consulted with disabled people and other stakeholders on the terms of reference for the Inquiry. Thanks to all those who contributed to the consultation process. We published the final Terms of Reference in June 2010.

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Last Updated: 08 Feb 2010