The Irish Criminal Justice and Disability Network (ICJDN) provides a national platform where disability organisations and criminal justice agencies can be facilitated to improve the experience of those with an intellectual, learning or physical disability who engage with the Criminal Justice System either as an adult or a child or as a victim, witness, suspect or offender.
In November 2018 the ICJDN assembled a panel to participate in a roundtable discussion, with the theme “Towards Better Pathways and a Mutual Understanding: “Access to Justice for People with Disabilities”.
Participants, including our very own Adult Advocacy Officer -Helena Connors, other disability organisations and advocates as well as key criminal justice agency representatives were there to create an engaged proactive working relationship to improve access to justice for people with disabilities.
Some issues highlighted by Helena include the lack of support for people with communication difficulties in the criminal justice system, concerns that adults with Down syndrome are not seen as reliable witnesses due to a presumption that they lack capacity and the lack of disability rights and awareness training for the Gardai and other criminal justice professionals. The ICJDN have published a report following the meeting – download the report here.