I have supported and watched many young people struggle through the court system. Alerting solicitors that their client has language and communication difficulties and will need additional support to fully participate during interview has almost always been difficult. Responses have varied, including no response at all:
‘…it’s ok we’ve done special needs…’
‘…it’s only going to be a warning…’
‘…we don’t have time to change things now…’
On a few occasions I met with solicitors who worked hard to meet the needs of their client fighting for additional support and guidance. Too often vulnerable C&YP are not being given the opportunity to accessing appropriate support at the beginning of the criminal justice system; police stations, during interviews. This can only lead us to question if the full story is being heard.
Information for legal professionals is out there, directing them to take account of the needs of witnesses and defendants.
I found this guidance useful and I believe can ‘re-arm’ those supporting C&YP to access fairness in courts.
A summary of the Equal Treatment Bench Book.
The Equality Act 2010 represents the single most significant development in equality law for the past 40 years. The Act consolidates existing statutory provision – previously spread disparately over various legislative measures – and thus harmonises discrimination law, while strengthening existing provision and creating new duties and rights. The booklet `Fairness in Courts and Tribunals’ has been updated to reflect those changes.