Learning disabilities

Commenting on the findings of today’s (15 July) Criminal Justice Joint Inspection report on neurodiversity in the criminal justice system, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This outstanding report shows conclusively that the criminal justice system is failing in its core duty to treat people with neuro-divergent conditions fairly, and that the number of individuals affected is startlingly high.

“The Lord Chancellor was clearly right to commission this work. But the real test is whether he will now provide the resource and the leadership required to follow through on the six crystal clear recommendations the report makes. “

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The Criminal Procedure Rules relating to the use of intermediaries have been amended via new legislation that came into force on 5 April. The amendments follow a consultation by the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee last year.

The new rules clarify the situation in respect of intermediaries being appointed to assist defendants as well as witnesses, whenever it is necessary to support the effective participation of a defendant in any part of their trial.

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The Prison Reform Trust welcomes the publication today by the Sentencing Council of Overarching principles: Sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders, or neurological impairments.

A high proportion of people in contact with the criminal justice system have mental health needs, learning disability or a neurological disorder. We hope that the new guideline will provide clarity and transparency for the sentencing of these individuals and help to ensure that their specific needs are taken into account and met in the sentencing process.

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