News

Do disabled people experience discrimination in the criminal justice system?

01 Mar 2019

A new inquiry led by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into whether people with mental health conditions, cognitive impairments and neuro-diverse conditions, including autism and ADHD, are experiencing discrimination and being put at risk of miscarriages of justice due to a lack of support in the criminal justice system, has been launched.

SCCJR’s own Dr Caitlin Gormley, a lecturer based at the University of Glasgow, will oversee the Scottish project, while an accompanying project will look at the issue in England and Wales.

The inquiry responds to significant concerns from charities, lawyers and defendants’ families that disabled people are being put at a disadvantage because adjustments are not being made to meet their specific needs. It also follows our recent report on the state of equality in Britain, which found that disabled people have low levels of trust in the criminal justice system.

The inquiry will focus on defendants’ experiences after they are charged and before they reach a trial. This is when critical decisions are made, including what their plea will be, whether they are to be granted bail or kept on remand and whether special measures for trial are made.

It will explore whether defendants’ needs are properly identified and whether adjustments are put in place to ensure they understand what they are charged with and the process they are going through, and can participate effectively and as fully as possible in the process.

The inquiry will conclude by the end of 2019.

To read the full EHRC’s press release on this inquiry please click here.