Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) Inquiry on Human Rights Act Review

During February/March 2021, the Joint Committee on Human Rights launched an inquiry into the Government’s independent review of the Human Rights Act.

The Government was specifically seeking feedback to understand if the Human Rights Act has led to individuals being more able to uphold their human rights and how easy or difficult is it for different people to uphold those rights.

The independent advocacy provision in public services is one of the key features of the HRA. To understand how HRA operates in everyday British life currently, it is important to accept the law itself must be interpreted in context of other supporting legislation including Care Act, Equality Act of 2010, Mental Health Act, Mental Capacity Act. This is complex and onerous for the average person to navigate and interpret without specialist support.

Between April 2020-January 2021 POhWER reached 348,330 people with advocacy support, information, and advice services. POhWER works with 83 public authorities across the UK to deliver advocacy, crisis, information, and advice services upholding human rights. In any given month, POhWER raises 50-100 safeguarding alerts where human rights violations have occurred related to abuse, bullying and harassment. In 2020, POhWER handled 800+ cases related to human rights breaches around blanket DNAR/DNACPR practices.

We have observed that there is lack of case law in the areas we work within primarily due to the barrier of cost faced by disabled and vulnerable people to assert their rights.

There is inconsistency in approach, understanding and application across the UK which creates considerable effort. We do not see a level playing field across the country - some better, more informed, and more responsive than others. Response and support can be different even in neighbouring authorities. One could argue that the level of support and response is sometimes down to a postcode lottery.

POhWER’s Written Evidence Submission to Parliament

Since the Human Rights Act was created in 1998, POhWER has gathered evidence to submit to the inquiry through our own recent work and contacts across the UK.

Our written evidence responses are directly informed by our beneficiaries lived experiences of the circumstances and problems impacting their human rights and quality of life. We gather this evidence from five groups: Partners, Service Users, Members, Community Stakeholders, and Independent Advocates working directly on these cases.

POhWER’s full written evidence submission on the Human Rights Act to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights can be found here.