The Equality and Humans Rights Commission has announced that it plans to extended the deadline for giving evidence to its Inquiry into disability-related harassment.

The Inquiry is investigating public bodies and public transport providers to monitor if they are fulfilling their legal obligations to prevent disabled people from being harassed.

Disabled people, their family, friends and associates now have until Friday 17 September 2010 to tell the Commission about any negative experiences such as name-calling, intimidation, bullying, violence or any other types of harassment. The Commission also wants to know if they sought help from any public body or transport provider and if so how was this handled and what support did they receive.

Public bodies and transport providers are being asked to disclose what steps – if any – they are taking to meet their legal duties. Councils, police forces, schools and other public bodies as well as bus, train companies and other public transport providers found to be failing in their duties could face enforcement action by the Commission.

Evidence can be submitted in writing or via a questionnaire which can be sent multiple ways to the Commission by letter, email, telephone, text phone and via a secure portal on its website. Evidence can be taken in disabled people’s preferred formats where required.

Mike Smith, lead Commissioner for the Inquiry, said:
“We’ve given people a few extra days to share their experiences with us to make sure everyone who wanted to contribute has a chance to do so. We’ve had a good response so far – with more people contacting us about this Inquiry than any we’ve previously held and the evidence we’ve received looks strong.

“The next phase of evidence gathering is already under way. We’ve set up hearings with representatives from different sectors, which will be carried out over the next few months and are on track to publish our findings in spring 2011.”