While the speed of court hearings could have been a factor in the prevention of reoffending during last summer's riots, there is a real danger that a drive for faster court proceedings could undermine already limited provision for vulnerable defendants (Heavy sentences may not have been riot deterrence ? Starmer, 4 July). Significant numbers of people in trouble with the law have mental health needs or a learning disability. Up to a third of all prisoners have a low IQ. Prison Reform Trust research with such prisoners found that over a fifth said they didn't fully understand what was going on in court or what was happening to them. Some didn't even understand why they were in court or what they had done wrong.
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