The House of Commons held a debate on the care and management of transgender prisoners on 15 December 2015.
The Education Committee has published the latest oral evidence in relation to its inquiry on Mental health and well-being of looked after children.
The Public Accounts Committee has announced an inquiry looking at contracted out health and disability assessments. Committee Chair Meg Hillier said in a statement “Disabled people and taxpayers in general have been failed by the Department for Work and Pensions’ inability to manage health and disability assessments. … Contracting out the delivery of public services does not absolve the Department from its responsibilities to ensure that taxpayers’ money is well-spent.”
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has published a report on Transgender Equality, which looks at how far, and in what ways, trans people still have yet to achieve full equality; and how the outstanding issues can most effectively be addressed.
The Government has published a response to the Home Affairs Committee report on the work of the Immigration Directorates (Q2 2015).
The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has published several new reports, including An Inspection of How the Home Office Tackles Illegal Working October 2014 – March 2015 and An Inspection of Removals October 2014 – March 2015. The Home Office has published responses to the two reports.
The House of Commons Library has published statistics and analysis of asylum trends in the UK and other EU countries.
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by a former MI6 informer, whose murder trial was held in secret on national security grounds, meaning that he cannot take his case to the European Court of Human Rights. The refusal by the English courts to permit disclosure to the European Court of Human Rights of material heard in camera during the trial did not constitute a breach of the courts’ domestic or international law obligations.
The Supreme Court has held that police stop and search powers are compatible with articles 5 and 8 of the Convention. The safeguards surrounding the use of the powers, such as the requirement to give reasons for the search, made it possible to judge whether the power had been exercised lawfully.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report on equality and human rights in Wales. The report concludes that, compared with five years ago, there have been some improvements, but significant inequalities still exist in education and employment, and young people are significantly worse off with respect to employment, poverty, housing and access to mental health services.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has published its Annual Statement.
Amended conditions for applying to the European Court of Human Rights and for lodging a complete and valid application came into force on 1 January.
Courts and access to justice
The Government has published its response to the consultation on proposals to increase court and tribunal fees. In a written ministerial statement, Justice Minister Shailesh Vara announced the introduction of fees in some tribunal proceedings, as well as fee increases in civil proceedings. A decision on whether to introduce a fee for bringing an appeal against a decision of the Information Commissioner has been deferred until the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information reports later in the year.
An interim report from the Civil Courts Structure Review led by Lord Justice Briggs has been published. Among the changes explored are the establishment of an online court for claims up to £25,000. A more formal process of consultation will be completed by the end of May 2016, with the review to be completed by the end of July 2016.
The Ministry of Justice has published two new research reports – ‘The Varying Paths to Justice: Mapping problem resolution routes for users and non-users of the civil, administrative and family justice systems’ and ‘Survey of not for profit legal advice providers in England and Wales’.
The Children’s Commissioner has published a report on school complaints. The report found that few schools had implemented the statutory requirement to have a complaints procedure; parents were generally unaware of them where they did exist; and schools were not collecting data on complaints properly.
The Department for Education has published a consultation seeking views about proposed changes to statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’. The new guidance will require schools to put in place strengthened measures to protect children from harm online. The deadline for responses is 16 February.
The latest Freedom of Information statistics, from July to September 2015, have been published by the Cabinet Office.
The Government has published its response to the consultation on reform of public sector ombudsmen. A new single ombudsman will cover the existing jurisdictions of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman in the first instance, within a framework that allows others to join over time. A new blog post – Eight predictions for 2016: A view into the ombudsman world – takes a look at likely developments during 2016.
The PHSO has published a report, Breaking down the barriers, on older people and complaints about health care. The report found that older people often lack the knowledge or confidence to complain when something goes wrong with their care, and recommended that the NHS and social care organisations should make patients aware of how to complain and of sources of support.
A new policy brief – Critics of the Ombudsman System: understanding and Engaging Online Citizen Activists – presents the outcomes and recommendations from an ESRC funded project on activist consumer groups, who use the internet and social media to protest about the operation of ombudsman schemes.
Police and prisons
The Government has published a consultation on reforming the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The deadline for responses is 28 January.
HMIP has published a report on Children and young people in custody 2014-15, an analysis of 12-18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres and young offender institutions.
The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has published its State of the nation 2015 report.
The Department for Work and Pensions has published a report presenting the findings from an evaluation of the removal of the “Spare Room Subsidy”.
The Health Research Authority and the devolved administrations have published a consultation on a new UK policy framework for health and social care research which sets out principles of good practice in the management and conduct of research and the responsibilities that underpin ethical research. The deadline for responses is 24 March 2016.
Hackney Community Law Centre and Hackney Migrant Centre have published a new report ‘A Place to Call Home – A Report into the Standard of Accommodation provided to Children in Need in London’. The report sets out key findings of research into the standard of accommodation provided to migrant families under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and makes a number of recommendations for central and local government to ensure better provision.