Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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i. At the pre-court briefing

Information about a defendant’s support needs may or may not be available at the pre-court briefing. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code C provides particular safeguards for ‘mentally disordered’ suspects held in police custody. This includes requiring an Appropriate Adult to be present during interviews with the police, and might involve the individual seeing a healthcare professional.

If an Appropriate Adult has been present during an interview with the police, this could be a useful indicator that a defendant might be vulnerable and in need of particular support during court proceedings; whenever possible, you should ask if this information is available. However, it should be noted that not all vulnerable people are recognised by the police as being in need of support.

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