Information

Letter of Rights - accessibility delivery working group minutes: April 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 29 April 2021.


Attendees and apologies

Attendees:

  • Scottish Government – Access to Justice Team
  • Scottish Government - Youth Justice and Children’s Hearings Team
  • Scottish Appropriate Adult Network
  • Autism Network Scotland
  • DeafScotland
  • Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice
  • Scottish Commission for Learning Disability
  • People First Scotland
  • Epilepsy Scotland
  • Scottish Child Law Centre
  • SOLD (Supporting Offenders with Learning Difficulties) Network
  • Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Items and actions

Welcome, terms of reference for the Accessibility Delivery Group and overview of the Letter of Rights for Scotland Working Group structure

The Chair welcomed members to the group, provided an overview of the Letter of Rights Working Group structure and the members confirmed that there were no issues with the terms of reference for the group.

Discussion on how the current versions of the Letter of Rights work in practice

The group supported the introduction of a children and young people’s version of the Letter of Rights and the vital importance of close engagement with the relevant user groups during development was highlighted. This could aid all versions of the Letter as it would provide children and young people with only the information that was relevant to them while removing information that is not relevant to adults from other versions of the Letter.

The group also supported the exploration of providing the information contained in the Letter in as many different formats as possible, such as a paper document and video/audio versions with subtitles, BSL and audio descriptions.

Several group members suggested that the information around access to appropriate adults should be at the start of the document and that key information such as the right to access sanitary products and the fact that it is mandatory for a solicitor to attend in the case of vulnerable individuals was missing.  

There was some discussion on whether the standard version of the Letter of Rights should be scrapped and all individuals in custody should instead be provided with an easy read Letter or children and young people’s letter as appropriate and on improvements that can be made to the easy read version of the Letter.

It was highlighted that the current easy read version of the Letter does not follow the standards of the easy read format and, anecdotally, that the easy read version of the Letter is so unclear that a number of appropriate adults struggle to understand the Letter themselves.   

Issues were raised around the length and format of the easy read Letter and that clear pictures should be used as a number of individuals will look to the picture to provide them with the relevant information rather than reading the text. The content of the Letter should be reviewed and it should be considered whether key information could be prioritised for inclusion to reduce the overall length of the document.

It was highlighted that any new easy read version will not be a ‘magic bullet’ and that as there will still be individuals that will be unable to understand their rights, focus should be placed on ensuring there is 1 to 1 support through the appropriate adult scheme and that individuals who are provided with the easy read version of the Letter should also be provided with access to an appropriate adult as standard. 

There was some discussion on making the versions of the Letter more readily available as awareness of the content of the Letter beforehand would aid understanding while in the difficult and stressful situation of being in police custody.

The idea of producing an app was then discussed. This would be communication inclusive and could provide infographics on what to expect while in the police station, aiding those that are unable to retain information by providing prompts at the appropriate time. However, issues around access to mobile phones while in custody would have to be considered.

Finally, group members raised the importance of consulting with wider stakeholders and user groups on the production of any future Letters.  It is important that enough time is given to allow for thorough user testing when considering the timeline of the overall reform project and consideration should be given to providing appropriate remuneration to user groups that engage with this project.

Next steps

The Chair sought agreement for high level meeting minutes to be published on an external SG web page and summarised the next steps for the group, including the importance of stakeholder engagement and user testing for any revised versions of the Letter of Rights.

AOB

No other business was raised.

Action points

  • SG to consider a project plan and timeline that can be circulated to group members for comment
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