Defendants with Mental Health Issues

PUBLISHED October 21, 2019

Following on from the recent consultation on Guidance for prosecutors on dealing with defendants with mental health issues and Max Hill QC’s speech on the topic, the CPS are on Tuesday of next week holding the first meeting of their new Mental Health Single Point of Contact (SPOC) network. I am told that they have developed a network of prosecutors across the service to act as specialists providing advice and support to colleagues. The SPOCs will be supported by the policy team as well as their senior lead for mental health, Mr Andrew Penhale, and they plan to meet regularly both via telephone dial-ins and face to face events.
I have been invited to speak on behalf of the LCCSA at the event and to sit on a panel chaired by the DPP along with Jenny Talbot of the Prison Reform Trust and Glyn Thomas, head of the Liaison and Diversion programme at NHS England.
The panellists will be asked to give a short 5-10 min talk on the question of “what do you think the CPS can do to improve the handling of cases involving defendants, victims and witnesses with mental health conditions and disorders in the criminal justice system?”
This is a brilliant opportunity for us to make our views on the way the CPS deals with defendants with mental health issues known to people that matter. I would therefore welcome any thoughts on the topic that you wish to share with me to enable me to as far as possible speak on behalf of the LCCSA (and indeed the defence community as a whole). Please let me have any real-world examples of good, bad or indifferent CPS practice that you have encountered when conducting a case for a client with mental health issues and any thoughts or ideas that you have about what practical steps the CPS can take to improve their practice in this area.
Looking forward to hearing from you all.
Edward Jones | Partner | For Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors