This is an Easier Read version of my latest blog post on ‘Impunity’ in relation to breaches of disabled people’s rights. Thanks as always go to Anne Collis at Barod.
There’s a law that says that local councils must go to court if they want to take away someone’s freedom to get up and leave a place.
Andy McNicoll did some work for Community Care magazine.
He found that over 50 councils hadn’t gone to court in any of these cases.
But those 50 councils knew of over 6,000 cases when they might be taking away someone’s freedom.
That means over 6,000 times that someone’s rights are being taken away – and there are many more cases.
So what’s going to be done about it?
I don’t know if anyone will do anything about it.
The British Institute for Human Rights is sending tweets about how human rights make a difference to disabled people and elderly people.
Elderly people in a care home were being trapped in special chairs that stopped them getting up.
This wasn’t just bad care. This was against their human rights. It broke the law.
Someone who knew about human rights went into the care home. He talked to the staff.
The staff have stopped using the special chairs.
I am glad that this has stopped.
But that is not good enough.
The care home broke the law. They shouldn’t get away with it.
International human rights law talks about impunity.
This means someone can get away with breaking the law, and you can’t do anything about it.
It seems to me that this is what is happening in the UK.
Disabled people have legal rights.
If someone takes away your legal rights, you can go to court and the judge will make sure you get your legal rights.
But in day to day life, this is not happening.
This is why:
- You need to know you have legal rights
- You need to know someone has taken away your legal rights
- You need to know you can go to court
- You need the energy to take your case to court
- You need a specialist solicitor
- You need to get legal aid, or find another way to pay a solicitor to help you go to court.
So in day to day life, it feels like councils and services can take away people’s legal rights and there’s nothing you can do about it.
What happens if you do take a case?
You get an apology. You may get a small offer of compensation.
But does that really change things?
Does it make sure no-one else gets their legal rights taken away?
What else can you do?
- You can go to the Ombudsman.
- You can go to an inspection body.
- You can ask the Secretary of State to do something
Will any of those make a difference for you or for other people who are having their legal rights taken away?
When we drafted #LBBill, we had to think hard about this.
Everyone wanted a new law
But many people assumed that the law will be ignored, unless the law includes serious punishment for breaking it.
What punishments might work?
- Fining people
- Managers losing their jobs
- Closing down a service?
I don’t know.
I do know that something called a judicial review can work. You can still get legal aid for a judicial review.
We need to stop letting people get away with breaking the law.
We need to take our cases to court more often.
We must never keep quiet because “everyone does it”. We must always speak out.
If enough people take their cases to court, maybe local councils and services will realise they must obey the law.