No One Knows launch in Wales

On 6 October 2009 the Welsh Assembly Government minister for health and social services, Edwina Hart, hosted the launch of the final report and recommendations from No One Knows. Speaking at the launch the minster welcomed both the report and its recommendations saying:

It is important that everybody receives the care and support they need, especially vulnerable individuals. This report highlights the importance of public sector organisations working together - this was a key driver in the NHS reforms that came into place last week and is also true of the services involved in the criminal justice system.

The minister added that she would ask the new health boards to study the report carefully and act to implement them.

Prison Reform Trust's No One Knows report is based on its groundbreaking three year review of the criminal justice system across the UK which finds that, at worst, the absence of police safeguards and appropriate support increases the likelihood of vulnerable people experiencing miscarriages of justice; that once in court their lack of understanding grows as their lives are taken over by opaque court procedures and legalistic terminology, and in prison many are left to fend for themselves in a shadowy world of not quite knowing what is going on around them or what is expected of them. 

Although the research finds pockets of good practice the particular needs of people with learning disabilities are often not recognised let alone met. 
 
Previous reports from No One Knows have shown that 20-30 per cent of offenders have learning disabilities or difficulties that interfere with their ability to cope within the criminal justice system.  
 
The report calls for health, social services, criminal justice and other relevant services in Wales to come together to do more to prevent people with learning disabilities getting in trouble with the police and to encourage the effective rehabilitation of those in the justice system.  
 
Also speaking at the launch was Yvonne Thomas, Director of Offender Management, NOMS Cymru who acknowledged that offenders with learning disabilities and difficulties, and their particular support needs, was not something that NOMS Cymru had adequately addressed. She went on to highlight specific instances where changes would now be made including in regard to commissioning arrangements and staff training. Echoing the minister's views, Thomas highlighted the need for joint working across and between the range of public sector organisiations. 
 
Since the launch NOMS Cymru, together with colleagues from the Welsh Assembly Government, are organizing a round table event with the Prison Reform Trust to decide how best to progress recommendations from the report. 

Follow the links on the right to see a copy of the full report, entitled Prisoners' Voices and the Welsh briefing paper, available in Welsh and English.