Letter of Rights: accessibility delivery working group minutes: November 2021

Minutes from the minutes of the group on 17 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government – Access to Justice Team
  • DeafScotland
  • Association for Real Change
  • Scottish Child Law Centre
  • Epilepsy Scotland
  • Police Scotland
  • The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice
  • Autism Network Scotland
  • Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities
  • CoSLA
  • Scottish Government - Youth Justice and Children’s Hearings Team

Items and actions

Welcome, approval of minutes and update on interim work carried out

The Chair welcomed members of the group and sought approval for the publishing of the minutes of the previous meeting. These were approved without amendment and publication agreed.

The Group was updated on the work that has been carried out following the second meeting of the Group in September, which included revision of the project timeline ahead of the Group meeting and securing involvement of  Police Scotland at the Accessibility Group (and  who were now in attendance).

Discussion on the content and format of any new Letters, including various specific issues which will help inform further work on reforming the Letter

The Group agreed that there should be a separate Children and Young people’s Letter as well as an Easy Read Letter for adults, as there is information specific to children and young people that must be conveyed by the Letter.

Group members emphasised the need for the Easy Read Letter to be consistent in terms of terminology used throughout the document and where possible to provide definitions of terms that are used, such as the term ”Responsible Adult”.

Further suggestions included: illustrating various concepts with pictures that include a diverse demographic; a BSL film clip, subtitled; a glossary at the end of the letter; consolidating wording regarding solicitors at the beginning of the letter; carefully considering wording around mental health disorders. These suggestions will be considered by Scottish Government officials during the commissioning for development of any new Letters of Rights.

The Group were in agreement that consideration should be given  to a co-designed process with a group of people with learning disabilities and lived experience of being in custody. A number of organisations were suggested that would be best placed to facilitate such work, including People for Scotland and the SOLD User Group.

The Chair moved on to discuss the recommendation from Dame Eilish Angiolini’s Independent Review that any future Letter of Rights should include detail on the right to complain. The Group was asked if there are particular issues with implementing this recommendation.

Group members agreed that the right to complain should be referenced on any new Letters of Rights. Discussion followed on the operational delivery of the complaints procedure for Police Scotland and whether the Letter of Rights could refer to a person’s right to leave feedback of their stay in custody, particularly if they feel they have been treated unfairly, should they wish to do so. It was suggested the word “complaint” makes reference in particular to a procedure following violations of rights and it is difficult to use wording “tell us your experience” to encompass that. Scottish Police Authority have been suggested as a helpful organisation to advise on how to implement the right to complain.

SG will share the wording of the Right to complain in the Letter of Rights in England in case this approach was of use.

The Chair finally raised the question of what would be the appropriate timescales for development and delivery of the new Letters. The Group felt that six months would be an appropriate timescale for production of the documents, but emphasised on the need for flexibility and the importance of giving enough notice to for delivery bodies to implement. Having input from people with lived experience would be impact  on an appropriate timescale for production, and was highly valued by the Group.

Next steps

The Chair summarised the next steps following this meeting, namely that the SG will produce and circulate minutes of the meeting to members of both Delivery Groups ; a meeting of both Groups will be convened; update the Project timescales; ultimately recommendations will then be taken to the Minister and dependent on the Minister’s views, work will begin on producing new versions of the Letter of Rights.


No other business was raised.

Action points

Group members to share any relevant information and resources with SG.

Terminology in the draft Letter of Rights for Children and Young People to be amended.

Contact information for People for Scotland to be provided to SG.

SG to share wording of the right to complain reference in the Letter of Rights in England.

SG to share the update timescale for the Project, including when the Group’s recommendations will be shared the Minister, and production of new versions thereafter.

SG to diarize for joint Operational and Accessibility Delivery Groups meeting in early 2022.

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