The new European handbook on equality data promotes equality and contributes to fight against discrimination in the EU by analysing why and what kind of data should be collected in relation to equality and discrimination.
Equality data refers to anonymous data in relation to equality and discrimination collected for statistical and evidence purposes and excluding the identification of natural persons concerned. Such data contributes to the fight against discrimination and promotes equality by providing evidence of existing discrimination, making it transparent and quantifying it.
The new Handbook is a revision of a previous Handbook from 2007, which has been updated in the light of current European framework and to promote new best practices from the Member States. The aim is to help Member States in developing their data collection practices, but the Handbook is also meant for all those needing and using equality data, including victims of discrimination, employers, statisticians, researchers and civil society.
Legal obligations to collect equality data remain limited in almost all EU Member States to duties of equality bodies to monitor (in)equality and to publish reports on the prevalence of discrimination.
Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies, also disseminates equality data through its internet platform dedicated to reports by national equality bodies, as well as its own reports.
Equality bodies publish annual reports about their activities and, in the majority of the Member States, participate in disseminating research results – particularly of research they commission. Data on complaints, decisions and judgments – be they on hate crimes or discrimination – are generally not readily available from the police, the prosecutor or the courts. Collaboration between these bodies enables them to enhance the use of the available data. For instance, in France, within the framework
of partnership agreements between the Defender of Rights and public prosecutors, it is envisaged that, where practicable, public prosecutors will forward their decisions to the Defender of Rights when one of its fields of expertise is concerned.
In many countries national equality bodies and other specialized authorities commission research on discrimination, as the following examples demonstrate:
Courts, tribunals and other judicial bodies are important sources of complaints data. This is particularly the case with bodies such as ombudsmen and equality bodies which have been specifically set up for the purposes of handling complaints on discrimination. Data on the number and types of discrimination claims processed during a particular time period such as a calendar year, information on outcomes
(how many cases were declared inadmissible, accepted or rejected, with breakdown by the type of discrimination), together with aggregate information on complainants and respondents, are among the kinds of statistical information regularly compiled on the basis of judicial processes. Data on the number of pending complaints and the average number of days taken to reach a decision allows measurement of performance in handling complaints.
EU-level and national stakeholders, such as equality bodies, research institutes and NGOs, who are willing and competent to collect equality data, should be supported with the resources to do so, in particular in relation to data on discrimination experience and complaints data.