Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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Mental health summary


  • Mental health conditions are very common and they can affect a person’s thinking, feeling and behaviour.  Some people with mental health problems may need additional support with daily living.
  • A mental health condition is a disability if it has a long term and adverse effect on a person's day to day activities. In this case, a person's condition may be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Mental health conditions may be short term or long term; and a person's condition can fluctuate.
  • Mental health conditions are more common in the offending population than the general population. 
  • Stress can make an existing mental health condition and symptoms worse.
  • It can be very difficult to know if someone has a mental health condition, but there are some signs to look out for.

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