Bar Council teams up with Silicon Valley to tackle bullying and harassment
The Bar Council, which represents all barristers in England and Wales, is launching an anti-bullying and harassment online tool that will be available for barristers this autumn.
Talk to Spot, an app developed by a Silicon Valley tech company, Spot, has partnered with the Bar Council to support its members in reporting inappropriate behaviour in the barristers’ profession. According to research, harassment and discrimination are currently under-reported across many industries, undermining the fact that everyone deserves to work in an inclusive, diverse and respectful environment. The app will provide barristers, most of whom are self-employed but work in chambers, a platform to record their experiences, quickly and easily.
Spot will help barristers talk through and record contemporaneously inappropriate moments at work. Barristers can then choose to either save the report for their own reference, or print the report and send it to their chambers, their employer, or other bodies. They can also submit the report to Bar Council.
No human (not even the Spot team or Bar Council) will see what a barrister discusses with Spot, unless they decide to submit a report - but even then it can be anonymous.
Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:
“Although barristers wear wigs and gowns in court, it should not for a moment be thought that the Bar does not embrace technology. Paper is disappearing from our courts, with most members of the Bar using laptops rather than carrying large paper bundles wrapped in pink ribbon. The Bar Council has led the way with the development of an ID card app for mobile phones which allows members of the Bar to gain easier entry to the Courts and a move to electronic voting as of September 2019. The “Talk to Spot” app is another innovative use of technology which will allow Barristers to report any inappropriate behaviour they experience, quickly and anonymously.”
The International Bar Association recently published a report on harassment and bullying which included a recommendation to utilise ‘new/flexible reporting models’ such as this.
In 2018 the Bar Council published the Barristers’ Working Lives report which showed an increase in reports of harassment/bullying.
Talk to Spot will be available for barristers to use later this month.