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Defendants: Mental Health

Volume 708: debated on Thursday 10 February 2022

10. What recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the CPS in handling cases where the defendant has a mental health condition or disorder. (905583)

New and refreshed training has been rolled out for prosecutors, information sharing between agencies is being improved and the CPS is developing a mental health flag on its case management system. These positive steps were recently recognised in a criminal justice joint inspection report.

Does my hon. and learned Friend welcome the greater use of mental health treatment requirement orders for offenders subject to community orders or suspended sentences? Will he engage with Ministers across justice and health services to ensure that sufficient funding is in place to enable the long-term adoption of this approach in Devon?

Yes and yes. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to welcome the use of mental health treatment requirement orders, because they provide courts in Devon and elsewhere with a powerful tool to rehabilitate offenders at the same time as ensuring they are properly punished for their crimes. Thanks to record support through the NHS long-term plan funding, plans are on track to introduce primary care MHTRs to half of England by 2023.

In addition to those with mental health disorders, people with other disabilities such as hearing impairment require additional support in court. This House has taken steps to make that happen for those who are hearing impaired. Can the Minister advise what services are deemed necessary for trial proceedings to take place for those with hearing impairment disabilities?

The hon. Gentleman raises a really important point. Whether someone is a victim, a witness or a defendant, they have the right to be able to hear what is going on in court. There are of course facilities already in place—hearing loops and so on—but the court retains the discretion to ensure that special measures are in place so that defendants can have the right to a fair trial and witnesses can have their voices heard.