This Act implemented the European Convention on Human Rights directly into UK law.
- Article 2 (Right to life) imposes an obligation to protect individuals in state detention whose life is at risk, including from suicide. This includes a duty to put in place appropriate systems designed to protect lives. According to the ECHR (2015), in relation to police detention, this includes but is not limited to1: -
- Freedom from abuse, bullying, threats, disrespectful treatment and neglect
- Freedom from unlawful restraint
- An effective risk assessment by a qualified practitioner as soon as practicable and timely access to medical and mental health treatment
- Access to support, plus information and advice in an appropriate format on how to access it
- Article 6 gives rights including the right to a fair, public, independent hearing within a reasonable time and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Once charged, rights related to (a) being fully informed of the accusation (b) being able to prepare a defence; (c) legal assistance ;(d) witness examination; (e) interpretation. Case law has held that Article 6 becomes necessary when a person is a suspect and is interrogated by police. It has also held that Article 6 requires special protections for children.
- Article 8 states that; (1) Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence; (2) There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. The second clause is, in effect, a proportionality balancing test. In relation to children, courts have decided that this engages the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Areas such as police fingerprinting and photography, for which AAs should be present, may come under this Article.
- Article 14 (discrimination) requires rights under all articles to be afforded without unjustifiable discrimination between groups, including people who are disabled.
Note: The Equality and Human Rights Commission Inquiry published a Human Rights Framework for Adults in Detention and recommended its adoption and use as a practical tool in police custody.
1. Equality & Human Rights Commission (2015) Preventing Deaths in Detention of Adults with Mental Health Conditions. London: EHRC
Places an equality duty on public sector organisations. Reasonable adjustments must be made to standard practices & structures to respect the rights of detainees who would otherwise be disadvantaged or placed at risk.
- Sections 6 and 15: define disability as a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities; and prohibit unfavourable treatment that is not proportionate and legitimate where the disability was known or could reasonably have been.
- Section 28 requires reasonable adjustments to be made to standard provisions, criteria, practices or physical features to avoid disadvantage. Reasonable steps must be taken to provide any ‘auxiliary aid’ without which a disabled person would be disadvantaged.
- Section 149 establishes a proactive, public sector equality duty. Section 153 gives a Minister power to impose specific duties on specific public authorities following consultation with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), the UK must ensure torture and ill treatment in detention is prevented through independent monitoring by a “national preventive mechanism”. The UK’s NPM consists of 20 bodies, including HMIC, HMIP and ICVA, who operate jointly to discharge these responsibilities in respect of police custody.