19 December 2013
Link to judgment
Gender and race
Summary of case
Two female prisoners nearing the date on which they would be considered for release on licence, brought conjoined challenges against the Secretary of State for Justice in respect of the provision of ‘approved premises’. The Claimants challenged the alleged continuing failure to make adequate provision for approved premises to accommodate women prisoners like them released on licence. The low number of approved premises for female prisoners meant that neither of the Claimants would be able to be supervised in such premises near their family – in Wales and London respectively.
The Secretary of State had failed to fulfil his duty under the Equality Act 2010 to consider the impact of the limited provision of approved premises of women. Cranston J concluded that:
…sufficient regard has not been paid to the public sector equality duty. The equality duty applies not only with discrete decision-making, but also with situations which develop organically… it is a continuing duty and requires ongoing review and assessment… there is no evidence that the Secretary of State has fulfilled his equality duty, at least not since 2008. What is required is that he address possible impacts, assessing whether there is a disadvantage, how significant it is, and what steps might be taken to mitigate it. In the context of advancing equality of opportunity – one aspect of the duty – that means taking the opportunity to see whether more might be done for women, having regard to their particular circumstances. Nothing even approaching this has been done.