Creating a fairer Britain
Title of guidance:
Year published: 2008
Length: 256 pages
Format: Book format only - available to order from Legal Action Group website / phone: 020 7833 2931 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other formats: none specified
Producer/ Publisher: Legal Action Group
Type of organisation: Training / consultancy organisation
Cross-sector | Commissioning or procurement | External Service Guidance | Human Rights Act | European Convention on Human Rights | GB wide| Case studies | Impact assessment
Audience: Senior Executives | Service management | Front-line service personnel | Policy managers and directors | Legal directors |
Topics: Human rights | assessing risk | transparency and accountability | proportionality | blanket policies / individual assessment | balancing competing rights | positive obligations
This is the single most comprehensive practical guide to the Human Rights Act available. It is a guide to the law but is primarily designed for managers and policy specialists; lawyers who have not specialised in human rights will also find it useful, as will frontline staff and voluntary sector bodies with an interest in human rights. The first part of the book is a question and answer checklist, prompting readers to apply human rights principles to their own roles and responsibilities. The second section explains the Act in non-legal language - how it works and the rights and obligations it contains. The book contains a wealth of case illustrations and several 'worked through' practice examples.
The HRA is a valuable management tool and a framework for decision-making. It can support public sector staff to:
This toolkit presents the Human Rights Act (HRA) as a management tool and a framework for decision-making. Its premise is that the Act is not burdensome, as it is sometimes perceived, but can support public sector staff to:
The toolkit is designed to address practical problems facing public services managers and practitioners and to give them greater confidence in their decision-making. It is not intended to make them 'act like a lawyer'.
The toolkit contains a question-and-answer checklist, written in note form using non-specialist language - as if by a manager or after a team discussion. The checklist format is designed to be reproduced in real life settings since, in the case of a legal challenge under the HRA, it can demonstrate that human rights principles were considered when a policy or process was drafted or a decision taken.
There are also two 'mini-checklists' focusing on particularly important aspects of the HRA:
The checklists can be used to:
They may also challenge you to think differently and to test your assumptions about your service or your own responsibilities.
The toolkit also provides two worked case examples. The first concerns a planning process and illustrates the application of HRA principles to day-to-day decision making and the design of a consultation process. The other sets out a scenario involving the re-housing of a sex offender and his family; it illustrates the balancing of rights and the use of human rights to manage risk.
The main checklist contains five steps - each of which is a prompt to consider human rights principles:
Step 1 - identify the decision, policy or process being developed: why is it needed and what is its purpose?
Step 2 - identify the specific human rights affected and who might claim those rights
Step 3 - identify whether a public authority has a "positive obligation" to protect human rights
Step 4 - consider whether the policy or procedure may restrict someone's rights and whether the restriction is justifiable
Step 5 - consider the organisational aspects of your policy or procedure: who has been consulted and how will people get the necessary training or information to ensure it works in practice?
Public authorities have a 'positive obligation' not just to refrain from harm, but also to take proactive steps to prevent harm, no matter who or what is causing it.
The obligation that public authorities have to protect and promote rights is one of the most important - and yet frequently overlooked - responsibilities under the HRA.
This toolkit is particularly useful in explaining how positive obligations come into play in everyday situations.
Positive obligations apply to all rights. However, they are particularly relevant to the right to life and the right not to be tortured or subjected to treatment or punishment that is inhuman or degrading; this is because these rights are 'absolute' and cannot be infringed under any circumstances.
Positive obligations are also seen as especially relevant to the right to private or family life, since this right affects people's intimate interests, physical integrity and autonomy.
The toolkit explains that positive obligations can involve:
The toolkit describes how human rights can be applied to risk management: a public authority should ask itself, what is the worst thing that could reasonably be predicted to happen, and will my actions mitigate that risk? However, it makes clear that there are limits to what can be predicted and there is no expectation that policies should be designed to respond to unforeseeable events.
The toolkit supports managers to balance different people's rights and to know when one person's rights can be restricted to protect those of others.
It sets out the precise objectives for which restrictions are permitted; they include things like protecting public health or safety, preventing crime and protecting the rights of others.
The toolkit highlights the principle of proportionality as lying at the heart of the human rights framework. To decide whether restrictions on a right are proportionate, managers must ask themselves:
The toolkit examines specific rights and gives case illustrations of restrictions - drawn from a wide range of sectors - explaining why they are or are not justified in the circumstances.
The toolkit contains substantial information about discrimination, including a 'mini-checklist' explaining when differential treatment of a group of people is or isn't justified.
We hope that you found the resource helpful and easy to use. Please let us know about other guidance or references that you think we should include. Send us your feedback.