Deadline extended for evidence of disability-related harassment in Britain

13 September 2010

The Equality and Humans Rights Commission has today extended the deadline for giving evidence to its Inquiry into disability-related harassment.  The Inquiry is investigating whether public bodies and public transport providers are fulfilling their legal obligations to prevent disabled people from being harassed. 

Disabled people, their family, friends and associates now have until Friday 17 September 2010 to tell the Commission about their experiences of name-calling, intimidation, bullying or violence and other types of harassment. The Commission also wants to know if they sought help from any public body or transport provider and what support they got, either as a result of being harassed because of their disability or because of their connection to someone who is disabled. 

Public bodies and transport providers are being asked to disclose what steps – if any – they are taking to meet their legal duties. Councils, police forces, schools and other public bodies as well as bus, train companies and other public transport providers found to be failing in their duties could face enforcement action by the Commission.

Evidence can be submitted in someone’s own words or via a questionnaire, and sent to the Commission by letter, email, telephone, textphone and via a secure portal on its website. Evidence can be taken in disabled people's preferred formats where required.

Mike Smith, lead Commissioner for the Inquiry, said:

“We’ve given people a few extra days to share their experiences with us to make sure everyone who wanted to contribute has a chance to do so.  We’ve had a good response so far – with more people contacting us about this Inquiry than any we’ve previously held and the evidence we’ve received looks strong.

“The next phase of evidence gathering is already under way. We’ve set up hearings with representatives from different sectors, which will be carried out over the next few months and are on track to publish our findings in spring 2011.”

More information about the Inquiry and how to give evidence can be found on the Commission’s website at www.equalityhumanrights.com/disabilityharassmentfi, by sending an email to disabilityharassmentfi@equalityhumanrights.com or by contacting the Commission’s helpline by telephone or textphone: 

  • England:    Telephone: 08456 046 610 Textphone: 08456 046 620
  • Scotland:   Telephone: 08456 045 510 Textphone: 08456 045 520
  • Wales:       Telephone: 08456 048 810 Textphone: 08456 048 820

Ends

Notes to Editors

For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.

Terms of Reference for the Inquiry

Full details of what the Inquiry will look into are set out in the Terms of Reference, which can be found at: www.equalityhumanrights.com/disabilityharassmentfi. The Commission held a 12-week consultation on the scope of the Inquiry and has acted on a number of recommendations from stakeholders. The findings of the consultation are available on the Commission’s website and via its helpline.

Definition of disability-related harassment

Disability-related harassment is unwanted, exploitative or abusive conduct against disabled people, including bullying and hate-crimes. Harassment creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment and violates the dignity, safety, security or autonomy of the person experiencing it. Note that a list of the forms of disability-related harassment included in the Inquiry is given in the Terms of Reference.

Public sector duties

The Commission has produced guidance to help public authorities understand what their duties and responsibilities are and how these duties should be implemented. This can be found at: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/public-sector-duties/. In this Inquiry, the Commission will consider how public authorities have complied with their obligations in relation to the Disability Equality Duty set out in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Human Rights Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Promoting the Safety and Security of Disabled People

The Commission’s report, Promoting the Safety and Security of Disabled People, can be found at: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/fairer-britain/good-relations/safety-and-security-for-disabled-people/

Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.