EHRC report on ‘Public perceptions of human rights’

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In June 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published Public perceptions of human rights. The study investigated how the public perceive human rights.

Quantitative summary

  • The values people hold most dear in terms of living in Britain are: being treated with dignity and respect, having freedom of expression, and being treated fairly.
  • There is a close alignment between the values that people think are important for society and those which people identify as being fundamental human rights.
  • Two-thirds of people feel that human rights are meaningful to them in everyday life.
  • There is strong support for a law to protect Human Rights in Britain. In particular, people endorse human rights in governing the way that public services treat people and for creating a fairer society. Perhaps this is because this enables them to connect human rights to their everyday lives and life outcomes.

However, there is a lack of detailed understanding of human rights and the legislation which surrounds these.

Qualitative summary

Opinions in the deliberative research support the findings from the survey overall:

  • Key values described as core to British life were similar to the top-scoring values in the quantitative survey; respect, family, law and order, and equality.
  • When asked to generate ‘The most important rights’, participants felt these were education, health, free speech and equality.
  • During the discussion, the numbers of participants valuing equality increased slightly, showing perhaps that views on values and rights are amenable to change with the right stimulus.
  • However, public terms for discussing these values and rights were not necessarily identical to human rights terminology and for some people there was confusion around what human rights were.
  • Human rights were considered to be important by the vast majority at the start of discussions; they were felt to be slightly more important across the groups after each right was discussed in detail.

EHRC Equality Measurement Framework

The Equality and Human Rights Commission launched the Equality Measurement Framework (EMF) on 23 July 2009.

The Framework will be used to assess equality and human rights across a range of domains relevant to 21st century life. These domains focus directly on those things in life that people say are important for them to actually do and be. The framework monitors the central and valuable things in life that people actually achieve – such as enjoying an adequate standard of living, being healthy, having good opportunities for education and learning, enjoying legal security, and being free from crime and the fear of crime. It is particularly concerned with the position of individuals and groups with regard to characteristics such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation, transgender and social class.

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‘The MacPherson Report – Ten Years On’

The Home Affairs Committee published ‘The Macpherson Report – Ten Years On’ on 22 July 2009.

The report found general recognition that the police service had made progress towards tackling racial prejudice and discrimination since 1999. However, there remain a number of areas in which the police service continues to fail ethnic minorities, including issues relating to the disproportionality of black people in the criminal justice system.

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EHRC research on social housing and immigrant communities

In 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published ‘Social housing allocation and immigrant communities’.

The research, by Jill Rutter and Maria Latorre, asked who is entitled to and who receives social housing, and do some groups have unfair access. The main finding was that there is no bias in the allocation of social housing to immigrants.

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EHRC Human Rights Inquiry

The report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Inquiry was published on 15 June 2009.

The Human Rights Inquiry was launched in April 2008, under the Commission’s statutory powers, to find out how human rights work in Britain. In addition to traditional in-depth research, public polling and focus group work, the Commission convened a series of public evidence sessions to hear from witnesses.

According to an Ipsos MORI survey of almost 2,000 adults commissioned as part of the Inquiry, 84 per cent of people said they wanted human rights enshrined in the law for themselves and their families and 81 per cent of people saw human rights as important to creating a fairer society.
In the first major study into how far public sector authorities have adopted a rights based approach to delivering services, the Inquiry found that where human rights were put at the heart of the delivery of public services, they delivered successful results.

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Research on the impact of the recession on different groups in society

In June 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Government Equalities Office and the Department for Work and Pensions published Monitoring update on the impact of the recession on various demographic groups.

The publication is the outcome of a joint programme of work that aimed to monitor the impact of the recession across the EHRC’s mandate groups of age, gender, race and disability. The EHRC also wished to explore how this recession was affecting the lowest qualified and most deprived in our society.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation research on economic inequality

In June 2009, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published three documents on attitudes to economic inequality.

Click here for ‘Understanding attitudes to tackling economic inequality’ by Louise Bamfield and Tim Horton

Click here for ‘What are the implications of attitudes to economic inequality?’ by Brendan Barber, Eileen Devaney and Philippa Stroud

Click here for ‘Political debate about economic inequality: An information resource’ by Ruth Sheldon with Reg Platt and Naomi Jones

Report on ‘Gender variance in the UK’

‘Gender variance in the UK. Prevalence, incidence, growth and geographic distribution’ was published by GIRES – the Gender Identity Research and Education Society – in June 2009.

The aims of the report include improving the evidence base about the likely extent and location of transphobic crime, and alerting providers and commissioners of healthcare to the growing needs among transsexual people for specialised medical services.

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