Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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Box 2: Good Practice Example

Magistrates' Association Mental Health and Learning Disability Champions

The initiative for a network of champions arose from an action of the Mental Health and Learning Disability Group, which is part of the formal committee structure of the Magistrate's Association. The champion role was launched in 2014. There are now champions in three quarters of the 58 branches of the Magistrate's Association, and the aim is to have full coverage in all branches.

The overarching role of champions is to act as a local facilitator or point of contact in their local area. The champions are a useful link for magistrates and court staff to enable an increase in awareness, information and understanding of the local criminal justice environment. To be effective, champions have established positive working relationships with Branch excecutives, local Bench committees and Justices' Clerks as well as Local Liason and Diversion Teams.

Within this framework the role of the champion is to:

  • Seek, promote and encourage all opportunities to raise awareness of magistrates, court staff and others of issues in relation to mental health, learning disability and other vulnerabilities
  • Encourage opportunities for training, newsletters and other local initiatives
  • Facilitate engagement with local Liaison and Diversion Teams and other professionals
  • Gain a greater understanding around what local services are available to deliver the community sentences. 

Many champions have used this resource to help develop and deliver awareness training for magistrates, and representatives from the Prison Reform Trust and members of the of the Working for Justice Group (people with a learning disability) are often invited to speak at events aimed towards raising local awareness. 

For more information, contact the Magistrates' Association


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