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Publication - Consultation Responses

British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan 2017-2023: analysis of consultation responses

Published: 23 Oct 2017
Part of:
Communities and third sector, Equality and rights
ISBN:
9781788512725

The report sets out the analysis of the public consultation on Scotland's draft British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan.

71 page PDF

985.8kB

71 page PDF

985.8kB

Contents
British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan 2017-2023: analysis of consultation responses
Justice

71 page PDF

985.8kB

Justice

Goal: BSL users will have fair and equal access to the civil, criminal and juvenile justice systems in Scotland.

Steps to be taken by 2023:

48. Assess how the justice system could better meet the needs of BSL users and carry out a plan of improvements.

49. Look at research on technologies which aim to improve BSL user access to our Justice systems.

50. We will ensure that appropriate guidance and resources are developed by the justice sector to improve understanding of and response to BSL users (this could include BSL awareness training and the development of guidance for BSL users on what they can expect in justice settings).

Question 25: Do you think these are the right steps under Justice?

In total, 87 people or groups answered Question 25. Of these 75% agreed that these are the right steps under Justice, 6% disagreed, and 20% said they did not know.

Question 26 - Please tell us why you think this.

Question 27 - If there are there any additional steps, or potential solutions that you think could be added to the Justice section, please tell us.

Around 85 people or groups made a written / BSL comment about Justice and it was discussed at around 35 events.

General points included that the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner are covered by the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 and will have to prepare and publish an authority plan. Other public bodies within the justice sector but not covered by the 2015 Act (such as Police Scotland, and the Scottish Prison Service) should ensure they have accessible information and appropriate support for Deaf / Deafblind BSL users. There may be a role for Community Justice Scotland to develop capacity within the justice system.

There have been a number of initiatives involving Deaf / Deafblind BSL users and their representative organisations working on BSL access to civil and criminal justice in Scotland. Any work carried out should build on what has come before.

Assess how the justice system could better meet the needs of BSL users and carry out a plan of improvements. (Step 48)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • Many Deaf / Deafblind BSL users do not feel they currently have fair and equal access to justice systems in Scotland.
  • The court setting is not easily accessible for Deafblind BSL users who need the support of a guide/communicator.
  • The process for Legal Aid is insufficient and is not clear. Many solicitors will not pay for interpreters, at least until legal aid is in place.
  • There are problems in the Children's Hearing system when information in printed format and legal language is provided too late to be translated into BSL.
  • Although few Deaf / Deafblind BSL users have been in custody, the ageing prison population means there is likely to be an increase in the number of prisoners who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • When Deaf / Deafblind BSL users are imprisoned they often have minimal or no access to education and rehabilitation opportunities, and so parole is deferred and imprisonment continues for longer than in comparable cases.

Suggestions made or ideas people or groups had included:

  • This step should be reworded to say 'Assess how the justice system currently meets the needs of Deaf / Deafblind BSL users and ways in which these can be improved' or 'Assess how the justice system could better meet the needs of Deaf / Deafblind BSL users, including better utilisation of technologies and carry out a plan of improvements'.
  • The full range of staff working across the justice system should be encouraged to learn BSL and this should be funded by the Justice Department.
  • Wider awareness and use of the Access Support Card (or similar) could improve how Police respond to Deaf / Deafblind BSL users.
  • A similar system to the Police Link Officers for Deaf people ( PLOD) currently in place in England could be considered.
  • It could be helpful to look at the level and range of resources required to provide interpretation series across the whole of the justice system and then consider whether a whole-system approach could be adopted. Other options could also be looked at, such as Deaf Relay Interpreters ( DRI) or Deaf Intermediaries or Deaf Advocates.
  • If a court writes to a Deaf / Deafblind BSL user the letter needs to be accessible. Correspondence for Deaf / Deafblind BSL users should include an accessible SMS number.

Look at research on technologies which aim to improve BSL user access to our Justice systems (Step 49)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • A lot of services fall under the Justice system and this step should cover all the different services.
  • Technologies are being developed by means of contactSCOTLAND- BSL to enable Deaf / Deafblind BSL users to make initial contact with the Justice services, but these do not cover emergencies.
  • Although Deaf / Deafblind BSL users can ask for a video to be taken of a police interview, would all police stations have the equipment to do this? Concerns were also raised about privacy using a webcam to communicate within justice settings.
  • Technology should not replace BSL / English interpreters in court or Deaf / Deafblind BSL users should always have a choice of face-to-face or online interpreters. There are issues around the skills of Video Relay Service ( VRS) BSL / English interpreters, confidentiality, and poor visual or aural quality.
  • It is important that solutions are compatible with the prison setting where personal communications devices are prohibited unless an exception is made.
  • Technologies to improve Deaf / Deafblind BSL user access to justice systems must align with the Digital Strategy for Justice in Scotland.

Suggestions made or ideas people or groups had included:

  • There should be visual displays to let Deaf / Deafblind BSL users know when they are called to court.
  • contactSCOTLAND- BSL hours of operation need to be extended to allow them to cover emergences. Also, if police had an iPad or a phone app they could use contactSCOTLAND- BSL to communicate with a Deaf / Deafblind BSL user – for example at a roadside.
  • There should be access to a helpline or support service to make a report in BSL for Deaf and Deafblind BSL victims of a crime.
  • A PLOD should be established. This would be a team of officers who can communicate in BSL and tactile BSL and this would help build firmer bonds with BSL communities.
  • The DSP or Scottish Council on Deafness ( SCoD) could research technologies where improvements for Deaf / Deafblind BSL users have been made.

Ensure appropriate guidance and resources are developed. (Step 50)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • The are many stakeholders in the sector with different roles, responsibilities and interests. Appropriate guidance and resources will depend upon the interest, responsibility and role of the organisation within the sector.
  • Very few Deaf / Deafblind BSL users have been in custody, so there will be aspects of prison service systems and processes that need to be reviewed to ensure they do not pose undue barriers. Development of guidance and resources would be welcomed.
  • It is important to remember there is a wide range of BSL ability among Deaf / Deafblind people.

Suggestions people made or ideas people had included

  • A national Advisory Group is needed for those stakeholders including Deaf / Deafblind BSL users and organisations who have a clear interest and contribution to make in this area.
  • Identify good practice within justice services and put in place structures to share good practice and experiences across the service area. The work of Police Scotland National Equality and Diversity Unit should be recognised and used as best practice going forward.
  • Should there be a Justice BSL Communications Officer? This person can work with all justice system organisations that need support, advice, information and guidance.
  • All information can be translated / formatted into BSL by working with DSP and BSL presenters.

Other comments on Justice

There is no mention of juries in the Draft BSL National Plan. Several people explained that they had received a letter calling them for jury service but could not serve as interpreters are not permitted. They felt that the law needs to be changed so that Deaf / Deafblind BSL users can play their part in the justice system. Also, the letter about jury service only has a contact telephone number – it should be possible to use a text/email and also the opportunity to use contactSCOTLAND- BSL.

If Deaf / Deafblind BSL users cannot be on juries, computer records should be clearly marked "Deaf / Deafblind BSL user" to indicate that they are barred from jury service and should not be called.


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