Greater support needs to be given to vulnerable defendants in order for them to get a fair trial, particularly those with learning difficulties who may have problems understanding the process, a report by the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) has warned.Well, of course they do. That’s the job of the PRT, isn’t it? To ensure there’s never anyone facing prison?
About 1 in 5 prisoners has a learning difficulty and up to one-third of all prisoners has a low IQ, research from the charity suggests.Well, yes. It’s no surprise that the dumb ones are easier to catch, after all, is it?
Currently, however, there is no legal requirement to provide support for vulnerable defendants, who must rely on the discretion of individual courts.
As a result, around one-fifth of those previously surveyed by the PRT said they didn't understand what was going on in court or what was happening to them.Not that it isn’t in their interests to say that, if they feel that someone sympathetic is listening. And in what passes for today's 'justice' system, it seems someone's always listening.
One quoted said: "It was scary because I just see this man and two women sitting on a great big bench and I was in a glass box and there were all these others looking. A man then came over and said he was my solicitor but he was different from the one the night before. I thought to myself, 'what is going on?'"Are we sure this wasn’t one of the judges?
One defendant quoted in the report said: "I didn't understand really; I pleaded guilt straight away," while another said: "I couldn't understand but I said 'yes, whatever' to anything."/facepalm
"People with a learning disability in Britain today are not always granted a fair trial," said Juliet Lyon, director of the PRT.
"Far more must be done to prevent the nightmare of entering trial proceedings – which could result in imprisonment – without adequate support and without fully understanding what is going on, or being able to speak up for yourself."And the victims of crime? Does anyone EVER speak up for them?