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Guidance for prosecutors on de...

Guidance for prosecutors on dealing with defendants with mental health issues and disorders (such as Autism)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced new guidance for prosecutors dealing with defendants with mental health issues.  The guidelines also extend to dealing with conditions such as Autism.

According to the CPS website “The revised guidance is designed to assist decision making throughout the life of a criminal case, from the initial decision to prosecute, through fitness to plead to sentencing. It has been developed to understand changes in the mental health landscape such as diversion services, and community concerns about the impact on the criminal justice system”

In addition, the CPS has launched a consultation to gather the views of the public and other stakeholders such as legal professionals in order that they can assist with the finalised guidelines.

As defence practitioners, we see first hand the issues caused by mental health issues.  In relation to autism, we are seeing more and more clients with autism.  The police, CPS and courts are ill equipped to deal with the complexities.  If more was understood about the disorder, more could be done.  We welcome the new CPS guidelines and hope that they have a positive effect.

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