Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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2. How to use this information

This resource has been designed so that it can be used in a number of different ways. One of the most useful ways is when it is combined with information from local services such as liaison and diversion and probation. The resource is available online ( and hard copies are available to download for free. Being online means that updates can be made in response to feedback, and new topics can be added.

In this revised and updated edition, two new sections on autism and women in the criminal justice system have been added, and information on communication difficulties has been enhanced.

Film clips are used throughout the online version to help illuminate points made. The Film clips are not a standalone resource. ‘Hyperlinks’ are used throughout the online version to help you manipulate the resource and to direct you to further reading.

Primarily, the resource is intended for personal use. It can also be used:

  • to inform dedicated training events
  • as part of ongoing training during bench or other meetings
  • as reference material.

The Prison Reform Trust can help with providing speakers for training events and suggesting how events might be organised.

We welcome your feedback on this resource. You can give your views and comments by contacting us on the email address below. Please also contact us if you notice any errors or if you would like further information: 

“This awareness training in mental health and learning disabilities is a must for all involved in the criminal courts. The resource is informative and sensitively put together. It is useful to be able to dip in and out to get the information you need. I found the film clips thought provoking; the personal life experiences portrayed took courage to share.” Janet Whitby, magistrate


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