The Scottish Government has published a new report which aims to promote and enable accessibility of service across the criminal justice sector in Scotland for those with disabilities.
The Criminal Justice Disability Project: Final Report outlines 76 recommendations to help make Scotland’s justice system more readily accessible to everyone.
Reporting, Recording and Recognition
42 of the 76 recommendations were related to reporting, recording and recognition. Some of the recommendations include:
- Linking up publicity campaigns across criminal justice and facilitate a more co-ordinated approach to collaborating and raising awareness of events and initiatives;
- Having a support pack for staff to help them provide accessible services for people with disability;
Providing assurances on the use of handcuffs on those accused persons whose first language is British Sign Language;
- Having a common complaints procedure in Easy Read format for use across all of the criminal justice organisations, except for the police who require more detailed guidance; and,
- Providing clear instructions on the appropriate use of the disability hate crime aggravator based on current Scottish Law.
Improved Processes within the Criminal Justice System
The report outlined how processes within the criminal justice system in Scotland could be improved. The following procedures have been reviewed and enhanced:
- Informing solicitors that they can receive funding for any “special arrangements” that they offer to clients with additional support needs, including longer meetings;
- The way in which police deal with repeat callers;
- Confirming that any decision to drop cases involving hate crime charges is taken by a legal manager; and,
- 3rd party reporting – regarding their numbers, availability and in the way they operate.
Disability Advisory Group
A new Disability Advisory Group made up of members of organisations representing disabled
people helped assist in the development of new and improved processes.
The Criminal Justice Disability Project: Final Report was prepared to capture the progress on the range of recommendations and marked the conclusion of the landmark equality project.
Alison Atack, President of the Law Society, said: “Across the wide range of recommendations, tangible outcomes have already been delivered in areas such as awareness of hate crime, identifying premises’ physical barriers to access, improving the language and accessibility of correspondence and other materials.
“The collaborative approach taken by this project will provide an excellent foundation for this continuing work.”
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