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Courts: Speech Impaired

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what (a) procedures and (b) protections apply in (i) magistrates courts and (ii) the Crown court for defendants with a severe stammer. (205643)

The court has a duty to ensure that defendants can fully participate in the proceedings, which will include providing assistance where necessary to those with communication difficulties. This might include, for example, ordering the use of an intermediary to assist the defendant to give evidence. A judicial practice direction was issued on 25 April 2007 giving guidance to the Crown court and magistrates courts on the treatment of vulnerable defendants. The practice direction can be found at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/criminal/procrules_fin/contents/practice_direction/pd_consolidated.htm