e-Helpline

 

 

 Helping people with Learning Disabilities or Autism in the Criminal Justice System

 

 Ensuring that everyone has equal access to information and services

 

 

 

 

 

 The e-Helpline is for everyone                                                                                      

 

 This includes criminal justice staff, families, friends and support staff      

 

 

 

 

Check the Frequently Asked Questions below to see if the information you need is there.

 

If it is not, click here to send us your question for us to answer. If you would prefer to speak to somebody over the telephone, you can call 02033719596 between 9am and 12pm, Monday to Thursday, to give us your question. We won't be able to give you an immediate answer, but we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Out of hours, you can leave your question (or telephone number) as a voice mail.   

 

This e-Helpline is overseen by KeyRing Living Support Networks as part of the Equal and Fair project which is funded by Comic Relief

 

To find out more about our work you can visit our KeyRing and the Criminal Justice System webpage or follow us on twitter @KeyRingEFP 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

At the Police Station

 

Q: Should I tell the Police I have a learning disability and the things I struggle with and how will this help?

 

A: It is important that you tell staff about your learning disability as soon as possible. You should also say if you cannot understand something later on in the process.

 

The police can get you the right help and support. They will know to communicate more clearly with you or give you regular breaks to understand what is happening. They may have some Easy Read materials you can look at. It will also help them to understand you and your situation more. Hopefully this information will be recorded and shared with other people and services if you agree. Do not assume that the police already know about your learning disability.

 

The Custody Sergeant needs to know about your learning disability. They will tell the other staff and can also put you in touch with Liaison and Diversion services if they have one at the station. Liaison and Diversion services are part of the NHS. It is a team of people who can help with your health and social care needs.

 

They can also contact your family or support worker, and ask them to come to the station if you want them there to help support you and explain more about your situation.

 

Q: Is there any guidance or information that can help me if I am arrested?

 

A: Some police stations have Easy Read information that explains about being arrested, being in the police station, and what your rights are (called ‘Rights and Entitlements’). You can ask the custody sergeant for Easy Read information.

 

You can also find all the examples of this online: www.keyring.org/cjs-easyreadexamples  (click on Police).

 

Some police forces have Pegasus Schemes which you can register with in advance. These are for people with communication problems to help make using emergency services easier. It means the police would have your details and communication issues already recorded on their system. You can ask your local emergency service if they use this or anything similar.

 

There is also information online for police staff about working with someone with a learning disability. You may want to make sure staff know about these helpful resources. These include:

 

Advocates Gateway Toolkits for questioning someone with a learning disability and lots of other related toolkits.

 

Positive Practice Positive Outcomes: A handbook for professionals in the criminal justice system working with offenders with learning disabilities (2011) 

 

Report: A Joint Inspection of the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system – phase 1 from arrest to sentence 

 

Q: What extra help and support can I get when I am arrested?

 

A: If the police know that you need extra help and support then they can arrange this for you. They may also have Easy Read information to help you understand things.

 

If you are vulnerable, which includes having a learning disability, you have the right to have an Appropriate Adult with you at the police station. This person can help you to understand what is happening if you are arrested, and help you to explain things to the police. There is an Easy Read leaflet about Appropriate Adults which explains how they can help.

 

Many police stations now have Liaison and Diversion teams working with them. These are part of the NHS not the police. The team can help with your health and social care needs and put you in touch with others who can help. They can also help the police to understand about your learning disability.

 

There is an Easy Read leaflet that explains how a typical team works: www.keyring.org/cjs-easyreadexamples  (click on Liaison and Diversion, then Easy Read Liaison and Diversion Promotional leaflet)

 

Q: What are my Rights when I am arrested?

 

A: You have certain Rights and also ‘Entitlements’ when you are arrested. Your rights include things like having a solicitor or getting medical help. You can read more in the Easy Read Rights and Entitlements leaflet.

 

In Court

 

Q: Should I tell people at Court I have a learning disability and the things I struggle with and how will this help?

 

A: It is important that you tell staff about your learning disability as soon as possible. You should also say if you cannot understand something later on in the process.

 

Staff can then get you the right help and support. They will know to communicate more clearly with you or give you regular breaks to understand what is happening. They may have some Easy Read materials you can look at. It will also help them to understand you and your situation more. Hopefully this information will be recorded and shared with other people and services if you agree. Do not assume that they have already been told about your learning disability by the police or someone else.

 

You must tell your solicitor you have a learning disability and describe any things you struggle with. This helps them to get you the right help.They should also tell the people working in the court about your needs before you go to the court. You may be assessed by an Offender Manager at this stage. You should also tell them about your learning disability.

 

If everyone, including the Judge, knows you have a learning disability, then people in court can understand more about you and perhaps why you were involved in a crime. If you are sentenced for a crime, the Judge can also make sure that your learning disability is taken in account in your sentence. This means you will be more able to follow any instructions or orders from the court and perhaps get more help as part of your sentence. 

 

Q: Is there any guidance or information that can help me at Court?

 

A: Some solicitors and courts have Easy Read information that explains what to expect from being at a Magistrates or Crown court. You may want to ask your solicitor or the Liaison and Diversion team about these.

 

You can also find examples of these online: www.keyring.org/cjs-easyreadexamples  (click on Courts)

 

There is also information online for courts staff and lawyers about working with someone with a learning disability. You may want to make sure staff know about these helpful resources. These include:

 

Mental Health, learning disabilities and autism in the Courts (on-line information for Magistrates, Judges and court staff)

 

The Advocates Gateway Toolkits for questioning someone with a learning disability, and lots of other related toolkits.

 

Positive Practice Positive Outcomes; A handbook for professionals in the criminal justice system working with offenders with learning disabilities (2011) 

 

A Joint Inspection Report of the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system – phase 1 from arrest to sentence 

 

Q: What extra help and support can I get when I am at Court?

 

A: If your solicitor and the court staff know that you need extra help and support then they can arrange this for you. They may also have Easy Read information to help you understand things.

 

The court can make certain changes to help being in court feel less scary and more easy to understand. They need to know about your situation before your court hearing date. You can also ask to look around the court before your hearing, so you know what to expect or have everyone standing on the same level, for example. You can read more about the special arrangements that can be made to help people understand and take part in their court hearing.

 

Some courts also have ‘Intermediaries’ who are trained to help vulnerable defendants when they are in court. You can read more about intermediaries here.

 

Most Magistrates courts now have a Liaison and Diversion team working there. These are part of the NHS and not police or courts staff. The team can help with your health and social care needs and put you in touch with others who can help. They can also help the court to understand about your learning disability.

 

There is an Easy Read leaflet that explains how a typical team works: www.keyring.org/cjs-easyreadexamples  (click on Liaison and Diversion, then Easy Read Liaison and Diversion Promotional leaflet)

 

Hopefully you will already be in contact with a Liaison and Diversion team from your time at the Police station. This same team continues to support you until the end of the court process. If you have not already seen one, you can ask to see the Liaison and Diversion team during the courts process.

 

In Prison

 

Q: Should I tell people in prison I have a learning disability and the things I struggle with and how will this help?

 

A: It is important that you tell staff about your learning disability as soon as possible. You should also say if you cannot understand something later on in the process.

 

Staff can then get you the right help and support. They will know to communicate more clearly with you. They may have some Easy Read materials you can look at. It will also help them to understand you and your situation more. Hopefully this information will be recorded and shared with other people and services if you agree. Do not assume that they have already been told about your learning disability by the courts or someone else.

 

In prison you can get different types of help from prison staff, healthcare and education. All of these groups need to know about your needs and difficulties so they can help.

 

Q: Is there any guidance or information that can help me when I am in prison?

 

A: Some prisons have Easy Read information that explains what to expect from being in prison and how prison life works. You will have to ask the prison staff for these. You may want to ask at the start, on ‘Induction’. If you visit healthcare in prison, they should have Easy Read information to help explain any health problems or for ‘Health Action Plans.’

 

You can also find examples of these online: www.keyring.org/cjs-easyreadexamples  (click on Prison and Healthcare in Prison)

 

There is also information online for prison staff and healthcare staff in prisons about working with someone with a learning disability. You may want to make sure staff know about these helpful resources. These include:

 

Positive Practice Positive Outcomes; A handbook for professionals in the criminal justice system working with offenders with learning disabilities (2011) 

 

Equal Access, Equal Care: Guidance for prison healthcare staff treating patients with learning disabilities (2015) 

 

Report: A Joint Inspection of the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system – phase 2 in custody and the community 

 

Q: What extra help and support can I get when I am in Prison?

 

A: If the prison staff and healthcare know that you need extra help and support then they can arrange this for you. They may also have Easy Read information to help you understand things.

 

Prison staff have a ‘duty of care’ for your everyday needs. This means they should make any changes (called ‘Reasonable Adjustments’) you need in your everyday life to be able to cope and understand things.

 

If you are doing any courses, therapies or ‘offending behaviour programmes’ you can check with staff whether these have an adapted, or easier-to-understand, version you can do.

 

Healthcare may have a learning disability nurse or knowledge about learning disabilities, so be able to give you extra help and advice. They can also work with prison staff to make sure everyone understands what you need. The nurses from healthcare can also help with any physical or mental health problems you have.

 

Education will be able to adapt their teaching and learning resources in a way that you can understand. They may also be able to help with things like creating a CV or other useful skills.

 

On Probation

 

Q: Should I tell Probation staff I have a learning disability and the things I struggle with and how will this help?

 

A: It is important that you tell staff about your learning disability as soon as possible. You should also say if you cannot understand something later on in the process.

 

Staff can then get you the right help and support. They will know to communicate more clearly with you or give you regular breaks to understand what is happening. They may have some Easy Read materials you can look at. It will also help them to understand you and your situation more. Hopefully this information will be recorded and shared with other people and services if you agree. Do not assume that they have already been told about your learning disability by someone else.

 

Q: Is there any guidance or information that can help when I am on probation?

 

A: Some probation services and Offender Managers use Easy Read information to explain what to expect if you are on probation. You may also be able to get your Licence Conditions in an Easy Read version, so you know the rules you have to follow as part of being on probation. You will have to ask your Offender Manager for these.

 

You can also find examples of these online: www.keyring.org/cjs-easyreadexamples  (click on Probation)

 

There is also information online for probation staff and Offender Managers about working with someone with a learning disability. You may want to make sure staff know about these helpful resources. These include:

 

Positive Practice Positive Outcomes; A handbook for professionals in the criminal justice system working with offenders with learning disabilities (2011) 

 

Report: A Joint Inspection of the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system – phase 2 in custody and the community 

 

Q: What extra help and support can I get when I am on Probation?

 

A: If your Offender Manager knows that you need extra help and support then they can arrange this for you. They may also have Easy Read information to help you understand things.

 

If you are doing any courses, therapies or ‘offending behaviour programmes’ you can check with staff whether these have an adapted, or easier-to-understand, version you can do.

 

Your Offender Manager can also contact local learning disability charities or similar type support services to see what help you could get. These could be things like a day-centre with activities or supported living accommodation to help you live independently. There may be help with everyday tasks such as benefits and paying bills.

 

Other areas of the Criminal Justice System

 

Q: Is there any help to understand things like Parole or Liaison and Diversion services?

 

A: Here are Easy Read information leaflets about being on Parole and what to expect.

 

There are Easy Read information leaflets about the ways a typical Liaison and Diversion service can help. You can find these here: www.keyring.org/cjs-easyreadexamples  (click on Liaison and Diversion, then Easy Read Liaison and Diversion Promotional leaflet)

 

If you still need more information to help you, click here to send your question for us to answer.