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People with Learning Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System Role of the Procurator Fiscal Ruth McQuaid Divisional Procurator Fiscal Glasgow Crown.

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Presentation on theme: "People with Learning Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System Role of the Procurator Fiscal Ruth McQuaid Divisional Procurator Fiscal Glasgow Crown."— Presentation transcript:

1 People with Learning Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System Role of the Procurator Fiscal Ruth McQuaid Divisional Procurator Fiscal Glasgow Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

2 Role of the PF Scotland’s independent public prosecution and deaths investigation service COPFS interact with persons with learning disabilities as: COPFS interact with persons with learning disabilities as:  Victims of crime  Witnesses  Accused Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

3 Victims with Learning Disabilities Victims of Crime Easy targets through their vulnerability Easy targets through their vulnerability Victims of offences aggravated by prejudice Victims of offences aggravated by prejudice Likely to require support to give evidence Likely to require support to give evidence Equality Act-specific rights Equality Act-specific rights Identified by police, support agencies, self referral Identified by police, support agencies, self referral Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

4 Witnesses with learning difficulties Referred to VIA where prosecution Referred to VIA where prosecution Provide information booklets/support links Provide information booklets/support links Explore vulnerability Explore vulnerability Assess need for special measures Assess need for special measures Obtain supporting evidence-expert report? Obtain supporting evidence-expert report? Submit vulnerable witness application Submit vulnerable witness application Consider identification/evidential issues Consider identification/evidential issues Pre-court visit Pre-court visit Transport/Access to court issues Transport/Access to court issues Someone to meet/greet Someone to meet/greet Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

5 Witnesses with learning difficulties  Children under 12  Children over 12  Vulnerable adults  Vulnerable accused  Defence witnesses Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

6 Vulnerable Witness (Scotland) Act 2004 Special Measures: Screens Screens CCTV link CCTV link Supporters (in addition to Screens or CCTV) Supporters (in addition to Screens or CCTV) Evidence by Commissioner Evidence by Commissioner Remote CCTV link Remote CCTV link Use of prior statements as evidence in chief Use of prior statements as evidence in chief Order-making power to specify more special measures Order-making power to specify more special measures No automatic entitlement for adults-for court to decide Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

7 Vulnerable Witness Application (VWA) Definition of vulnerability : “ Where there is a significant risk that the quality of the evidence will be diminished by reason of 1.Mental Disorder-mental illness, personality disorder, learning disability: Definition from Mental Health ( Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act Fear or Distress in connection with giving evidence Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

8 Role of the prosecutor Understanding communication needs- better evidence Understanding communication needs- better evidence Pre-court visit Pre-court visit Meet, greet, update Meet, greet, update Prioritise trial/evidence Prioritise trial/evidence Make court aware of impact of adjournment Make court aware of impact of adjournment Request cleared court Request cleared court Separate entrance /waiting room Separate entrance /waiting room Extra breaks Extra breaks Consider questions carefully Consider questions carefully Object to inappropriate cross-examination Object to inappropriate cross-examination Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best

9 Accused persons with learning disabilities  Police interview-appropriate adult?  Medically fit-psychiatric examination?  Alternatives to prosecution-diversion?  No action-mens rea?  Jurisdiction-sheriff court or above  Special measures for giving evidence?  Examination of the facts Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Working Together to be the Best


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