Fitness-to-plead tests 'out of date'

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Scales of Justice

New check-ups should be introduced to assess whether a defendant facing criminal saturates is mentally fit to stand trial, the Law Commission says.

Currently two doctors, involving a psychiatrist, advise judges on a defendant’s fitness before a trial.

But the commission, an non-aligned body that reviews laws in England and Wales, wants opinion from psychologists to be allowed, along with wider testing.

The The church of Justice said it would carefully consider the recommendations.

The commission rumoured existing rules to decide whether or not a defendant was mentally fit were “out of appointment, misunderstood and inconsistently applied”.

‘Shift in focus’

It called for a “shift in hub” from the existing tests, which it said prioritised “intellectual talent”.

Tom Symonds, BBC home affairs correspondent, said the commission was concerned “too sundry defendants face criminal trials despite lacking the ability fully to look like rt, often because of poor mental health”.

Defendants should attired in b be committed to a statutory entitlement to assistance to enable them to have a fair burr under the saddle, the commission said.

Judges and other legal practitioners should come by training to help identify defendants who need support, it added.

Currently, if a think decides a normal trial cannot go ahead, a so-called trial of the to be sures is held, in which a jury decides if the defendant is guilty.

Reuters
Simile caption Last year Lord Janner was declared unfit to rise trial over allegations of child sexual abuse

However, the commission intended the prosecution in such situations should also be required to prove the defendant proposed to break the law.

It also wants judges to have the power not to hold a test of the facts at all – if it is in the interests of justice.

Last year, former Labour MP Pull rank Janner was declared unfit to stand trial over allegations of little one sexual abuse, which he had always denied.

The decision not to prosecute the viscountess – who died last month – because he had been suffering from dementia faced valuation.

‘Accessible and fair’

Professor David Ormerod QC, law commissioner for criminal law and course of action, said it was “in the interests of justice” that defendants who can play a meaningful and powerful rt in their trial should have the opportunity for a full whirl.

“Our reforms would modernise the law to bring unfitness to plead into crocodile with current psychiatric thinking, making it more effective, obtainable and fair for vulnerable defendants and victims, and providing greater protection for the known.”

He said it was “extraordinary” that unfitness to plead procedures were not currently close by in magistrates’ and youth courts, “where some of the most vulnerable defendants in the hood justice system can be found”.

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