Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality and Human Rights Commission today announced that it is to conduct a Formal Inquiry into disability related harassment in England and Wales.
The announcement comes on the International Day of Disabled People. The Inquiry will gather and examine evidence from disabled people who have been affected by disability-related harassment and from public authorities on what steps they are taking to tackle the issue.
Evidence already gathered by the Commission indicates that targeted violence or hostility towards disabled people is widespread in Britain. People with learning disabilities or mental health conditions in particular experience high levels of victimisation.
A report on the safety and security of disabled people published by the Commission earlier this year found that disabled people are four times more likely to be the victim of a crime than other people and are twice as likely to be the victim of a violent attack.
The Commission in Wales is marking the International Day of Disabled People by hosting conferences in Swansea (Dec 2) and Llandudno (Dec 4) to raise awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention, which was ratified by the UK Government on 8th June 2009, is the first international human rights treaty of the 21st Century. These events will allow people to explore how the Convention can be used to make human rights an everyday reality. Around 150 disabled people and groups will attend the conferences.
Disability issues in Wales are brought into sharp focus by statistics showing that:
Kate Bennett, National Director for Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“There have been recent cases where targeted hostility, bullying and antisocial behaviour has escalated into more serious violence, murder or the death of disabled people.
“The recent inquest into the tragic deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter Francecca point to the need for early intervention and preventative action.
“Our Inquiry will look at the everyday experiences of disabled people. Living in modern Wales involves a lot of contact with public services so we want to get a better picture of what public bodies are doing to tackle the harassment that disabled people face.”
The Commission will shortly publish draft Terms of Reference for the Inquiry, for consultation. Final Terms of Reference will then be published before the Inquiry begins in early 2010. The Inquiry will then report its findings within one year.
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.
The Commission has produced guidance to help public authorities understand what its duties and responsibilities are and how these duties should be implemented.