Ignorance isn’t bliss - nor a defence!
Earlier this year my eldest son, who is 12, presented me with
his birthday wish list. It read "No. 1 - a long bow, no. 2 -
a cross bow and no. 3 - a gun." After I'd sat down, we had a
little chat and he went off to re-write it. The thought of Mrs Lockhart up the
street seeing an arrow whizz past in her garden sends chills down
my spine. But, to be fair, he has had an interest in archery
for some time so I arranged for him to attend a course and he's now
joined an archery club. During the course of this we learnt
that it's an offence to display a strung bow in public, but it's
not if it isn't strung as it would be a stick - one of those
quirky old laws that most people won't know about because it
doesn't affect them.
Sadly, there are laws that affect us all and still many don't
know about them and ignorance isn't bliss nor is it a defence.
A modern day example is The Equality Act 2010, which affects
us all, yet knowledge of it amongst many of us is either slight or
non-existent. The Act, which became law in April 2010, isn't
really that new. It brings together 9 previous Acts, 107
statutory instruments and over 2500 pages of codes of practice.
Its reach now covers equality and diversity in all our lives
and the lives of our parents, children and others, who are entitled
to fairness and equal treatment at work and in society. It is
aiming to make the law more simplified and easier to understand
and, at the same time, advance equality issues to make our
increasingly diverse society a fair and great place to live.
If you are a provider of a service to the public, an employer or
even a public body then you need to be aware of this Act and what
it means to you. Ignorance can be expensive as a well known
builder's merchant found out recently with a record compensation
payment of £390,870.58. Sounds more like a lottery win, but
sadly there will be a lot of pain and suffering behind that figure,
not happiness. To help raise awareness about the Act we'll be
running a series of awareness events in the autumn along with some
of our partners, such as Constructing Excellence in the North East,
and you'd be welcome to attend and find out more.
Recently, a number of people have asked me about the services we
offer and made a comment or two about using national standards.
Some would say national standards are too generic and not
specific enough to apply in their circumstances. I'm afraid
I'd in the main disagree with this. Yes, there may be some
elements about your circumstances not covered, but there may be
many more than are covered that you'd not even thought about.
What I like about using national standards is that you are
buying the ideas and thoughts of experts who have put time into
development of them. They are then refined by others and will
evolve over time as feedback is gathered from users, to keep them
fresh. More than anything you are buying the brain power of
all those experts involved in a framework that you apply straight
away to your organisation or yourself. You don't have to
spend time with a blank sheet of paper, research, develop and then
test something - that's all been done. A good example of this
and linked to my earlier topic is the C2E Equality Standard.
It has been developed by a team of renowned experts, tried
and tested; in fact it is the most widely used of all the equality
standards available making it the national market leader. So
if you are thinking of using a national standard or accreditation,
it might be a little bit more expensive, but the extra investment
is worth it as you're buying a lot of extra brain power that you
don't normally see.
And finally, as I come to the end of my article, in the full
knowledge that Mrs Lockhart is safe in her garden, I hope you'll
enjoy this edition and hearing about our news. Also I hope
you've had a good summer and we look forward to working with you in
the autumn months.