Information

Letter of Rights - joint delivery working group minutes: February 2022

Minutes of the final meeting of the Letter of Rights Working Groups held on 2 February 2022.


Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government – Access to Justice Team
  • Scottish Commission for Learning Disability
  • Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
  • The SOLD Network
  • Scottish Appropriate Adult Network
  • Police Scotland
  • Faculty of Advocates
  • Association for Real Change
  • The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice
  • Scottish Government – Police Complaints Team

Items and actions

Welcome, approval of minutes and update on work carried out since previous meetings

The Chair welcomed members of the Group and sought approval for the publishing of the minutes of the previous meeting. Approval was given, subject to one amendment to wording for “People First Scotland”.  

The Group was updated on the work that has been carried out following the third meeting of the Accessibility Delivery Group in November and provided with a summary of previous discussions and next steps. 

Final discussion on the content and format of the new Letters

Final joint discussions on the content and format of the new Letters of Rights for Scotland reflected previous and separate Accessibility and Operational Delivery Working Group meetings. Both Working Groups agreed on the need for separate Easy Read and Children and Young People’s versions of the new Letters. 

Attendees shared the view that the development of the new Letters of Rights should be a co-production process with people with lived experience of learning disabilities and being held in custody. 

People First Scotland and SOLD User Group were suggested as best placed to assist the co-production of the Easy Read Letter of Rights. 

The Youth Just Us service group, part of CYCJ, was suggested to assist the co-production of the Children and Young People Letter of Rights. 

It was noted that involvement from Speech and Language Therapy may help to secure that the letters  contain appropriate vocabulary and language structures. A speech and language specialist met with Scottish Government officials ahead of the last LOR meeting and expressed an interest in the development of both letters. 

Other discussions relating to accessibility of the new Letters of Rights included:

  • ensuring that the information in the Letters is accurate and is not likely to change (some degree of future-proofing be built in)
  • commissioning easy read and Plain English versions through Disability Equality Scotland
  • translating versions of the Letters into Braille and a variety of languages
  • video/audio versions of the letters to be made available in police stations 

The language in the Children and Young People LOR for wording of: ‘you have the right to know what police think you have done’ was considered inappropriate, and Police Scotland suggested this wording might give persons held in custody the impression that police officers have already assumed the course of events before speaking to them. Wording to assist in reassuring persons in custody that guilt in relation to an offence is not presumed and this would need to be reframed. 

Group members were content that project plan timescales for developing the Letters are achievable, however there was some concern raised that delivering the final Letters in December might be an inconvenient time from an operational perspective. It was suggested that either November 2022 or January 2023 should be considered for sharing the letters widely.

AOB

Concerns relating to Age of Criminal Responsibility considerations were raised; however, the group was reassured by Police Scotland representatives that efforts are being made to ensure no child under the age of 12 will be brought into custody unless absolutely necessary. Should this need to happen in special circumstances, Police Officers are trained to use appropriate behaviours and language and to ensure the comfort of the child and that a Responsible Adult will be present. 

Actions

SG to circulate minute of final LOR joint Working Group meeting.

Group members to provide any additional information ahead of recommendations going to Minister. 

SG to discuss indicative timescales with PS for video version of LOR.

SG to circulate draft recommendations to the Group ahead of them being shared with the Minister.

SG to provide recommendations to the Minister for Community Safety.

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