Bradley Report - 10 years on

The MA welcomes the publication of the report Bradley - 10 years on

20 June 2019
Bradley Report - 10 years on

The Magistrates Association welcome all the great work that has been done since the initial Bradley Report 10 years ago and were very grateful for the opportunity to input into this vital update. We support this report in stating that it is important to be ambitious to push for more change to improve the outcomes for vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.

Liaison and Diversion (L&D) schemes have been incredibly successful where they have been fully embedded in both police stations and courts. The information provided by L&D is invaluable to magistrates in both making decisions about what reasonable adjustments are needed to support participation of vulnerable defendants, and in deciding appropriate sentences following conviction. We agree with this report, which asserts we now need to push for full coverage of L&D everywhere and support front line staff to be able to identify all relevant vulnerabilities (including learning disabilities and Acquired Brain Injury).

We support the concerns raised in this report about the potential negative impact of the current Reform Agenda on access to justice for vulnerable defendants. Digital access to a hearing (whether via online procedures or use of video link technology) is likely to impede engagement amongst the most vulnerable cohort and the consequential risks to ensuring a fair process for all must be mitigated.

We agree that information from L&D should be fed into pre-sentence reports, to ensure sentencers understand any vulnerabilities that might affect culpability or the appropriateness of certain sentencing options.

The MA is extremely supportive of the Community Sentence Treatment Requirement programme as described in this report, as it provides magistrates with more community options which can support offenders to address problems which might be linked to offending behaviour.

We also welcome discussions on how to restrict the use of unnecessary short prison sentences by providing sentencers with robust and effective community alternatives to custody.

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