Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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vii. Case management

For cases that go to trial, plea and directions hearings should address potential problems that individual defendants might have in engaging with trial proceedings and help to inform the use of ‘special measures’ and ‘reasonable adjustments’. Such arrangements should be made in advance of the trial. New Criminal Procedure Rules which came into effect on 6 October 2014 requires the court, in preparation for the trial, to take 'every reasonable step' to facilitate the preparation of any person, including the defendant. (See Section 11: Supporting vulnerable defendants in court).

The aims of pre-trial directions are threefold:

  • to identify difficulties that are likely to arise in court hearings and procedures 
  • to clarify the individual’s needs
  • to arrive at a proportionate response.

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