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EHRC report 'Inclusive Justice: a system designed for all'

John Bache, Chair of the MA, responds to the report

11 June 2020
EHRC report 'Inclusive Justice: a system designed for all'

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have published the full findings of their inquiry into whether the criminal justice system treats disabled people fairly, which shows increased reliance on technology risks disabled people’s access to justice.

John Bache, Chair of the Magistrates Association, has responded to the report:

"The MA welcomes this timely report by the EHRC on Inclusive justice: a system designed for all.  We supported the work done by the EHRC as part of this inquiry as an important collection of evidence to inform the reform agenda, but the current need to rely on remote hearings to reduce transmission of coronavirus has made the report even more relevant. Although the MA has previously raised concerns about the use of phone or video hearings because of the impact their use can have on fair participation, we have supported greater use of remote hearings in the current situation to allow necessary social distancing. However, this report finds that for some defendants, participating via video link can make it harder for them to navigate the system, and understand the process. The report focuses on the fact that particular care must be taken to ensure the use of technology does not prevent those with cognitive impairments, mental health conditions or neuro-diverse conditions being able to participate effectively. It is essential that the final decision regarding the use of remote hearings always lies with the judiciary. It is the responsibility of the judiciary to ensure a process is fair, and it is therefore vital that relevant vulnerabilities of defendants are identified, so the court can make appropriate decisions and introduce necessary measures to ensure someone can participate effectively and fairly. Justice must always trump efficiency."

The MA response to the interim findings of the EHRC inquiry can be found here.

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