Easy Read

Easy Read in the Criminal Justice System

Accessible and easier-to-read documents are now more available for suspects, defendants, offenders and victims.

What is Easy Read?

Easy Read documents present information using simple words and pictures that make information easier to understand. The use of Easy Read is common-place in health and social care organizations, as well as other areas.

It can help anyone with reading or comprehension difficulties, including those with learning disabilities, learning difficulties and also people for whom English is not their first language.

Easy Read is classed as a 'reasonable adjustment' (The Equalities Act, 2010) as it helps to ensure people have access to the same information as others.

"I can't read very well. When I was in prison I could never understand the forms and information or read any letters. Getting help with my paperwork and bills on the outside is what helped me to stop offending and start my new life."

Quote from an ex-offender and member of the Working for Justice group.

What Easy Read initiatives are taking place in the Criminal Justice System?

In 2011, The Department of Health launched a series of Easy Read images for Criminal Justice staff to use, for free, with a guide on how to do your own Easy Read documents. They asked the organization CHANGE to design Criminal Justice images, so now staff can design their own 'Easy Read' versions of leaflets, signs, forms, etc. People who do not work in the Criminal Justice System can still buy these images from CHANGE.

As part of the same project several national criminal justice documents have had Easy Read versions created. For Example, the police 'Notice of Rights and Entitlements' document, given to everyone who gets arrested.

Recently, KeyRing met with the Minister for Prison and Rehabilitation to discuss the issues faced by prisoners with disabilities. KeyRing explained about the benefits of having Easy Read materials and the Minister has since asked the Ministry of Justice's Equalities Team to look into producing more documents.

The charity KeyRing Living Support Networks has been working to promote the concept and the use of Easy Read in the Criminal Justice System for several years. You can find out more about their work here.

Click here to see some examples of Easy Read documents designed for use in the Criminal Justice System  

Whilst Easy Read is a relatively new tool being used in the Criminal Justice System, there are already examples of good practice from across the country.

You may want to look at these for inspiration when thinking about what Easy Read documents would be appropriate and effective for your service. Please click here to see these examples. 

"... we created a new Easy read [application] form that has proven to be very effective indeed. As a result of creating this form we have seen a significant surge in applications from the vulnerable groups we have been trying to reach out to. We have also received a great deal of praise from our stakeholders, including lawyers and prison staff, about the new form and we are so pleased that more people are able to access our service because of its creation...."

Quote from Catherine Dilks, Customer Service Manager,
The Criminal Justice Review Commission

Click here to read more stories about the impact Easy Read has had on offenders and services within the Criminal Justice System.

If you cannot find the information you require concerning Easy Read, then please contact Neisha Betts (neisha.betts@keyring.org).