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The collaborative development through multidisciplinary and advocate consensus of an accessible notice of rights for people with intellectual disabilities in police custody

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-20, 15:46 authored by Gautam GulatiGautam Gulati, ALAN CUSACKALAN CUSACK, Barry Lynch, Valerie Murphy, Mary Carey, John Bogue, Anne B..O'Connor, Vivienne Foley, Ciara Dee, Bernard E. Dunne, Padraigh L. Sutton, Brendan D. Kelly, Elizabeth Fistein, SHANE KILCOMMINSSHANE KILCOMMINS, COLUM DUNNECOLUM DUNNE


People with intellectual disabilities are over-represented in the criminal justice system. The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) enshrines a right to equal access to justice for persons with disabilities (Article 13, UNCRPD). Accessible information is a key aspect of exercising this right. Yet, many jurisdictions, including Ireland, are yet to develop accessible information for disabled people who may be arrested. 


This paper describes the collaborative development through multidisciplinary and advocate consensus of an accessible (Easy -to- Read) Notice of Rights (ERNR) for people with intellectual disabilities in police custody in Ireland.


Guidelines developed by Ireland’s representative organisation for people with intellectual disabilities and examples of international practice were used to develop a draft ERNR by the primary researcher in partnership with an expert from a representative organisation for people with intellectual disabilities. The ERNR was developed thereafter through two focus groups with a view to achieving consensus with a focus on accessibility, accuracy and layout. This included a multidisciplinary focus group with participants from a representative organisation for people with intellectual disabilities, psychology, speech and language therapy, the police force, public health, forensic psychiatry, mental health, law and, subsequently, a focus group of people with lived experience of intellectual disability. 


Progressive development of the ERNR resulted in incremental improvements in textual accuracy as well as the inclusion of more accessible language and imagery. 


This is the first attempt at developing an easy-to-read document relating to the legal rights of suspects in police custody in Ireland and, accordingly, this procedural innovation promises to assist, not just persons with intellectual disabilities, but also those with limited literacy at the point of arrest. The methodology used in the preparation of the document, employing a focus group to achieve consensus with participation from both multiple disciplines and persons with an intellectual disability, is in harmony with the ethos of the UNCPRD. This methodology may usefully be employed by other member states that have ratified the Convention but have yet to develop accessible version of the legal rights and entitlements that extend to arrested persons under their domestic law.



International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 83, 101815



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