Archives for posts with tag: Disability News Service

A disabled people’s organisation (DPO) has intervened in a “hugely significant” court of appeal hearing that is set to decide how far the government’s Care Act protects disabled people’s independent living and well-being.

Inclusion London is the first DPO to intervene in a case involving the “flagship” Care Act 2014, while it will also be the first such case to be heard by the court of appeal.

To highlight the importance of the case, Inclusion London will hold a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday (17 August), from 9.15am, to show the three judges the impact the case will have on disabled people’s lives.

The case has been brought by Luke Davey, a disabled person with high support needs, whose support package was “slashed” after the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015.

He lost his high court case earlier this year, after seeking a judicial review of Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to cut his support from £1,651 to £950 a week from May last year.

The council had decided both to increase the number of hours Davey spent without the support of his personal assistants (PAs), and reduce the rates of pay of his PAs.

His lawyers are now arguing that the care plan drawn up by the council should be quashed, while it should draft a new plan that takes into account the risks its decision poses to Davey’s wellbeing.

They will argue that the council is breaching the Care Act by suggesting that he can rely on volunteers or unpaid family carers if he wants to go out for longer than three hours at a time.

And they will argue that the council should have seriously considered the risk to Davey’s wellbeing if his long-established team of PAs broke up.

Source: DPO plans court vigil as it intervenes in ‘hugely significant’ Care Act case – Black Triangle Campaign


A newly-elected disabled MP is calling for action to address the bullying and harassment he has witnessed in the House of Commons, in a bid to introduce a new culture of “decorum and professionalism” into parliament.

Jared O’Mara has previously spoken to Disability News Service (DNS) about some of the access barriers he has faced in parliament since he defeated former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to win the Sheffield Hallam seat in June.

Now he is calling on the House of Commons to draw up a policy on bullying and harassment by MPs, and to carry out a regular access audit of the parliamentary estate.

Many disabled people were appalled when O’Mara – who is unable to stand for longer than five or 10 minutes – described earlier this month how he had been unable to attend a couple of debates in the main Commons chamber because there were no seats available.

But he has now told DNS that he wants the parliamentary authorities to introduce an anti-bullying and harassment policy that would prevent the kind of behaviour he has witnessed in the Commons chamber.

He said he had not been bullied or harassed directly, but had been affected by the comments and “jeering” directed against male MPs who have taken advantage of new rules allowing them not to wear ties.

The new rules are believed to have been introduced by the Commons speaker, John Bercow, after O’Mara made it clear he was unable to wear a buttoned shirt and tie because of his impairment.

All male MPs are now allowed to speak in the Commons chamber without wearing a tie, while O’Mara has also been allowed to wear a tee-shirt under a jacket.

But O’Mara said that comments made by the transport minister, John Hayes, who warned that he would refuse to take interventions from any male MPs who were not wearing ties, had made him feel “really upset and uncomfortable”.

He said he had taken these comments as “harassment”, even though they were not directed at him.

A spokesman for Hayes had failed to respond to a request for a comment by noon today (Thursday).

O’Mara said: “There has been other jeering when MPs have been not wearing a tie. It’s Neanderthal and bestial.”

He said he was also disturbed by the general “heckling and shouting” at fellow MPs that takes place in the Commons chamber during debates.

He said: “That comes under that umbrella of bullying and something I would like to take up, so people are more civilised while in the chamber and so they don’t make other people uncomfortable.”

He said that this kind of “very shrill, aggressive, intimidating environment” could cause problems for MPs who have

 

Source: Jared O’Mara calls for action on bullying and harassment by MPs – Black Triangle Campaign


Ministers have been accused of ignoring a public consultation and ploughing ahead with plans that will make their “fitness for work” testing regime even more stressful and unfair for sick and disabled people.

A presentation delivered by two senior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) civil servants earlier this month suggests that ministers have decided – as many disabled activists feared after the publication of last year’s green paper – to introduce new benefit sanctions for sick and disabled people with the highest support needs.

The presentation at a DWP “Operational Stakeholder Engagement Forum” appears to confirm that the government had decided how it would reform the system of out-of-work disability benefits before its “consultation” process had finished on 17 February.

The government had claimed that it wanted to make the work capability assessment (WCA) less of an ordeal for claimants, with work and pensions secretary Damian Green telling last October’s Conservative party conference he wanted to support those disabled people who cannot work, and “sweep away unnecessary stress and bureaucracy which weighs them down”.

But slides from the presentation appear to show that his new regime will be even harsher, and that many employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants with the highest support needs and barriers to work will for the first time face having their benefits sanctioned if they do not co-operate with the regime.

The slides show DWP has already begun introducing a compulsory, face-to-face “health and work conversation” (HWC) with a jobcentre work coach that will apply to nearly all new claimants of ESA, weeks or even months before they go through the WCA process to decide whether they are not fit for work and eligible for the benefit.

Source: DWP presentation on ESA plans ‘confirms worst fears’ about green paper – Black Triangle Campaign


Source: DWP report confirms fears over impact of ILF closure – Black Triangle Campaign


Disability News Service (DNS) has won its appeal against the Department for Work and Pensions

Source: Tribunal rules DWP must release information from secret benefit deaths reviews | DisabledGo News and Blog



Original post from Disabled Go News

‘……….

Crown-Prosecution-Service-cps

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has issued controversial new guidance on disability hate crime which could cut the number of successful prosecutions, after a senior government barrister concluded that the existing guidelines were unworkable.

Disability News Service (DNS) understands that CPS and senior police officers believe that it has been almost impossible to persuade a magistrate or judge that a crime was motivated partly by hostility towards disabled people.

This means that few offences receive the increased sentences given to crimes accepted by the courts as disability hate crimes.

Disability News Service (DNS) has been reporting on the criminal justice system’s failings on disability hate crime since 2009, while the police, prosecutors and probation service – and other agencies, including the courts – have repeatedly been urged to improve.

Under section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the courts must increase the sentence for any offence where a defendant has demonstrated hostility towards disabled people, or where the offence has been shown to be motivated by hostility.

The previous CPS guidance argued that this “reflects the significant impact hate crime has on the victim and on the community”.

But following a report by a senior government barrister, which was critical of the current system, DNS understands that offences will now only be treated as disability hate crimes by police and prosecutors if they are clearly motivated by disability-related hostility.

But this is likely to be controversial – and to split opinion among hate crime campaigners – as it could easily lead to fewer successful hate crime prosecutions.

Under the new guidelines, to be published today (Friday), courts are more likely to treat disabled victims of violence and abuse as “vulnerable” rather than as victims of hate crime.

This could still result in a stricter sentence – on the grounds that the victim was in a vulnerable situation – but could be seen as a significant step backwards in the long fight for recognition that disabled people are frequent victims of hate crime.

And the sentence uplift for “vulnerability” is likely to be lower than that for a disability hate crime.

A CPS spokeswoman said the new guidance “encourages the use of section 146 where possible, and reminds prosecutors that where an application for an uplift under section 146 is not appropriate, the vulnerability of a victim due to their disability may still make an offence more serious and so prosecutors should present the case in a way which enables the judge to reflect this in sentencing.

“A nationwide training programme for all lawyers is also being planned and is a sign of our commitment to tackling this nasty crime.

“Hate crime continues to be a key priority for the CPS and we are committed to continue applying for sentence uplifts wherever the evidence and the law allows.”

She said that she could not comment on the government barrister’s advice, and added: “Whenever the CPS seeks legal advice, the content of that advice is always confidential.”

Stephen Brookes, one of the coordinators of the Disability Hate Crime Network, said the new guidance was “not ideal” but was “a step forward in one way”.

He said he was “not massively disappointed”, and added: “Nobody used [section 146] because nobody knew how to use it.

“It is going to lead to more successful section 146s, but more importantly it is going to lead to better prosecutions at the vulnerability level.

“It’s a better solution because it takes out some of the mud from what we have got. At least it provides some clarity.”

But another coordinator of the network, journalist and author Katharine Quarmby, who has played a key role in raising awareness of disability hate crime over the last eight years, warned that the new emphasis on “vulnerability” could be a backward step.

Even if crimes receive a higher sentence because of the victim’s “vulnerability”, she said the effect of declaring an offence a disability hate crime was crucially important.

And she said that offences often start off with criminals grooming a disabled person who has found themselves in a vulnerable situation – perhaps because of a lack of support – but end up as hate crime.

Quarmby – author of a pioneering book on disability hate crime, Scapegoat – pointed to the case of Kevin Davies, a young disabled man who was befriended, and then held captive in a locked garden shed for nearly four months, fed scraps of food, and humiliated and tortured by his “friends”, while his benefits were stolen.

She said: “They say that it is now crystal clear what a disability hate crime is, as opposed to a ‘vulnerability’ crime.

“They are convinced that they will know a section 146 crime and therefore they will immediately leap to ask for section 146 to be imposed.

“I am sceptical. I think we still don’t get away from a blurring of the boundaries. Cases start as one thing and turn into another, a point made by Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, who was the first head of the CPS to take the issue seriously.”

CPS has promised to review the effectiveness of the new guidance early next year.

In May, a report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation concluded that the police, CPS and probation service had failed to implement recommendations they had made in 2013 on dealing with disability hate crime.

The 2013 report, Living in a Different World, said the criminal justice system had let down victims, pointing out how failings across the system helped lead to some of the most notorious disability hate crimes, including the deaths of Francecca and Fiona PilkingtonDavid Askew and Michael Gilbert.

For a collection of DNS news stories about disability hate crime, visitwww.longcaresurvivors.co.uk

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Aden

Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

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