EHRC Legal interventions and access for disabled prisoners *
X, a wheelchair user, experienced inaccessible prison facilities and has also had problems accessing prison services. He took action against the Secretary of State for Justice using the DDA and HRA.
The Commission made representations concerning the need under the Disability Equality Duties for the responsible public authorities to plan and take pro-active steps to improve the accessibility of prison services and facilities - something the authorities had failed to do - and to improve access to services and delivery of public functions without unlawful discrimination against disabled prisoners. The positive obligations of public authorities were also supplemented by HRA rights that X has - particularly under articles 3, 8 and 14.
The MOJ conceded the claims, and they agreed terms of settlement with X and the Commission. The settlement terms included action to revise the Ministry of Justice Disability Equality Scheme to identify and address disabled prisoner issues. A new prison service order would also be created to cover their responsibilities under the public functions duties contained in the DDA.
* Source: EHRC website, R(X) v Secretary of State for Justice, High Court, January 2008. Case settled.