How are my
rights protected?

The Human Rights Act is the main way your human rights are protected in the UK.

The Human Rights Act contains a list of 16 rights (called 'Articles')

There are three things you need to know about how the Human Rights Act works:

ONE

The Human Rights Act puts a legal duty on public authorities and officials to respect and protect your rights in everything they do.

You don’t need a lawyer to use the Human Rights Act. You can raise the issue about your care or treatment directly with service providers.

TWO

All other laws should respect your human rights.

For example, if you are worried about how a part of the Mental Health Act is affecting your human rights, you can ask a court to look at this.

THREE

The rights in the Human Rights Act are taken from the European Convention on Human Rights.

The UK helped write the Convention.

Before we had the Human Rights Act in the UK, you had to go to the European Court of Human Rights (in France) to get help. This is far away and it can take years to get your case heard.

So the Human Rights Act brought these rights closer to home.

This means you can now ask your local court or tribunal to help with your rights.

Who has duties to uphold my human rights?

Public authorities have a legal duty to respect and protect your rights in everything that they do, including providing the services you use.

  • This means that people working in public services, called public officials, have to uphold your human rights.

This includes:

  • NHS staff
  • Local authority staff (e.g. social services, housing etc.)
  • Private health and care providers where your care is arranged or paid for (in any part) by the local authority
  • Police
  • Prison staff
  • Courts and tribunals, e.g. the Mental Health Tribunal or the Court of Protection

This is not a full list, just examples of who has duties to uphold your rights.

  • Sometimes a local authority will pay a private company or a charity to deliver health and care services.

These organisations and the people working for them also have a legal duty to uphold your rights.

  • If you don’t think your human rights are being respected you should contact someone working in a public authority like a social worker, your GP, your council or the Care
Quality Commission.

Once they know your rights are at risk, they will have a duty to act and take steps to protect your rights.

  • For serious concerns, contact the police. In an emergency call 999, for other police queries contact 101.

Why are human rights duties important?

This duty is really important in everyday situations because if you are treated badly by services you can:

  • Speak up because you have human rights which should be respected and protected.
  • Talk to your services about whether they are meeting their legal duty to respect and protect your human rights.
  • Work with services to find better solutions without the need to go to court or use a lawyer.

Next: What rights do I have?