Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment
Many incidents of bullying, harassment or discrimination at the Bar go unreported and unchallenged. We understand reluctance to report a distressing experience, but in order to tackle behaviours like racist or sexist comments, bullying or intimidating behaviours that impact on us, we need to know what happened, so that we can act. To address reluctance to come forward, the Bar Council is working with Spot, an online tool, to give the profession a secure, constructive process for dealing with unacceptable behaviours.
The Spot tool allows you to record and - if you wish - report these behaviours.
No matter how minor the incident, we need you to record it, report it and be confident you can remain anonymous and we will act.
During the current Pandemic we have extended Spot reporting to enable barristers to report coronavirus-specific concerns – for example around safety when attending court, the impact of Covid/Extended Operating Hours etc.
How does it work?
Spot is a completely secure tool designed to help people working at the Bar to record and report any incident. It will let you make a record of exactly what happened, who did it, who saw it, where it happened and when. It's simple to use and when you've inputted the information, it will generate a date stamped contemporaneous record of the incident.
No one else will see it. It belongs only to the person who created the record.
What happens next?
Once the record has been created, you don't have to do anything else with it.
However, if you deem it necessary, you can use the record to support a complaint about the incident. A complaint can go to your chambers, employer and/or regulator. In the case of criminal behaviour, the record can be used to help report an incident to the police.
If permission is given, the record can be sent by Spot to the Equality and Diversity team at the Bar Council. This can be done completely anonymously and would enable us to provide additional support and collect information about what's happening where.
Calling out inappropriate behaviour
Spot will also take third party reports, so if you have witnessed an incident or inappropriate behaviour, you can anonymously make a record of it. This record can then be reported to the relevant authorities or sent to the team at the Bar Council, as you see fit.
Building a picture of harassment and discrimination at the Bar
We hope that Spot will enable the Bar Council to build a picture of what is happening where and if there are patterns which can be stopped.
The isolation experienced by people who've been bullied, harassed and discriminated against is one of the barriers to challenging perpetrators and toxic cultures. If the Bar Council receives multiple anonymous reports about the same individual, Spot will make it possible for us to go back to the people who made the records and let them know there are others with the same experience. This could give them more confidence in pursuing a complaint or at the very least let them know they are not alone.
A modern solution to an age-old problem
Bullying, harassment and discrimination are nothing new and are not unique to the Bar. But we know our profession can be better and we want to do everything we can to make it easier for someone who has experienced inappropriate behaviour to report it and stop it. This way we will tackle toxic cultures which have allowed these behaviours to go unchallenged and we will send a clear signal that the Bar is of all, for all.
Incidents can be recorded and/or reported through Spot.
If you have witnessed inappropriate behaviour, or someone has disclosed something to you, you can make a record yourself or encourage the individual concerned to make a record on Spot.
Alongside the Talk to Spot tool, the Bar Council will continue to provide confidential ethics and equality and diversity helplines, training and support for members and chambers, and research and guidance on all aspects of equality and diversity.