Criminal Justice Pathway

In 2015, SOLD produced the report, “The criminal justice pathway for people with learning disabilities: challenges and opportunities for change”. The report provides an overview of some key challenges and opportunities for change that will help improve support and reduce offending amongst people with learning disabilities in Scotland.

Within the report, SOLD also produced “the simplified criminal justice pathway for adult offenders”. This shows the various stages of the criminal justice system in the form of a diagram that is intended to make that process easier to understand and navigate.

Criminal Justice Pathway

Report from the Supporting Offenders with Learning Disabilities Network.

Find out more

This report seeks to inform and guide local and national planning and practice related to improving support for people with learning disabilities whose behaviour brings them into contact with the criminal justice system and to reduce offending by them.

Criminal Justice Pathway


Prevention, early intervention and diversion

Contact with the police and fiscals

Members of the SOLD User group have said:

We want support from someone who is there for us, as soon as possible after we are picked up by the police until the end of the court process

We want them to be there for us in interviews with the police, in meetings with lawyers and other professionals, and when we go to court

We don’t want the to be called as a witness against us

Watch Allan Speirs talk about his experience of being interviewed by the police

Court process

Members of the SOLD User group have said:

Before getting to court we want support to understand the court process

We need enough time to prepare with our lawyer before appearing in court. This could be significantly more time than for a defendant without a learning disability

We always want the chance to be able to stand trial with reasonable adjustments if we need them. We have the right to a fair trial. If we do not understand parts of the court process they should be explained in a way we can understand

We want not to be questioned in a way that is deliberately trying to confuse us. The questions in court should be about finding the truth, not making a fool of us

Community sentences, prison and through-care

Members of the SOLD User group have said:

We want prisons to check if we have a learning disability but it is only worthwhile if we are going to get the extra support we need

Having a learning disability and coming out of prison should mean we are entitled to get support

Social workers should come into prison to find out what support we will need and have that support ready to start when we come out