Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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d. Reasonable adjustments

/The Equality Act 2010 requires public authorities, including courts, +to seek to ensure that discrimination against disabled people does not occur. This could be by making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to existing provision and ensuring that future provision is accessible to people with disabilities. Courts are expected to make any reasonable adjustments necessary for people with disabilities to enable them to participate effectively in court proceedings.

Although reasonable adjustments are ‘personal’ to the individual there are a number of common adjustments, concerned with communication and comprehension, that can help defendants with mental health conditions or learning disabilities. One example of a reasonable adjustment is communicating in a different way, see Section 11e: Communication in court. Another example is Easy Read which is described in Box 1, below.

Box 1: Easy Read

  • Easy Read documents present information using simple words and pictures making it easier to understand. The use of Easy Read is common in health and social care organisations, and is increasingly being used in other areas including criminal justice.
  • Easy Read can help people with reading comprehension difficulties, including those with learning disabilities, learning difficulties and also people for whom English is not their first language.
  • Easy Read is a 'reasonable adjustment' that helps to ensure equal access to information for people with reading and comprehension problems.
  • An Easy Read leaflet, A guide on how and where to pay your fine (form MC102), can be downloaded from HM Courts and Tribunals Service website.
  • Examples of Easy Read can be found at KeyRing
  • See also: Am I making myself clear? Mencap’s guidelines for accessible writing:

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