The above video was created by Education Scotland and other videos are available on the crime and law section of their site.
The right to a fair trial is central to the Scottish Criminal Justice system. Designed to ensure that the process is fair and certain, it is guaranteed by Article 48 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Disability Discrimination Act (1995), now superseded by the Equality Act 2010,was the vehicle for the governments’ inclusion agenda. The Act required vulnerable defendants be provided with adequate assistance, so that they might effectively participate in criminal proceedings with a full range of disposal options available. However, more remains to be done to protect the procedural rights of the offender with learning disabilities.
Key challenge identified:
- There must be reasonable adjustments in place to ensure that the right to a fair trial of people with a learning disability is protected.
Legal/ Policy framework:
- The Keys to Life Implementation Framework and Priorities 2015 -2017
- ECHR Article 6 (European Convention of Human Rights)
- Cadder V HMA 2010
- Lord Carloway’s Report
- Equality Act 2010
- Lord Bonomy’s review
- Post Corroboration Safeguards Review final report
How will SOLD help address the issues identified?
Our members believe that change is possible!
We reviewed the key interaction points, for people with learning disabilities, along the criminal justice pathway, which helped us identify recommendations for change.
The key recommendations to improve the court room experience of people with learning disabilities and to ensure that people with a learning disability have access to a full range of outcomes are:
- There should be court staff in place who can identify vulnerable defendants and whose responsibility it is to help ensure their effective participation in court proceedings and to uphold their right to a fair trial.
- A review of sentencing policy in light of evidence in respect of the effectiveness of short term sentences.
- Effective community sentencing policies, which consider the social support required to support offenders to comply with any order.
- Greater integration of criminal justice social workers and community social workers to help identify whether a defender has any known vulnerability and to ensure offender receive appropriate support, if they receive a community based sentence.
- Further consideration should be given to the use of registered intermediaries in Scottish courts.
If you are a member of SOLD you can request a copy of our action plans which detail how we are working towards implementing our recommendations for change.