This collection presents a summary of current knowledge regarding autistic suspects, defendants and offenders in the criminal justice system of England and Wales. The volume examines the interaction between each stage of the criminal justice process and autistic individuals accused or convicted of crime, considering the problems, strengths and possibilities for improving the system to better accommodate the needs of this vulnerable category of neurodiverse individuals. By explicating the core issues in this important but disparate area of study in a single place, the collection facilitates understanding of and engagement with knowledge for a wider audience of relevant stakeholders, including criminal justice practitioners, policy makers, academics and clinicians. It also incorporates key recommendations for improvement, thereby clarifying the urgent need for substantive change in policies and practices. The ultimate goal is to both improve the treatment and experience of autistic people subjected to criminal justice processes; and produce fairer, more appropriate systemic outcomes. While focused on the criminal justice system of England and Wales, the work will be valuable for researchers and policy makers working in similar systems, as well as those interested in neurodiversity more generally.
About the Author
Tom Smith is an Associate Professor in Law and a Head of the Global Security, Crime and Justice research group within the College of Business and Law, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK. His research interests include remand, disclosure of evidence in criminal proceedings, criminal defence lawyers, criminal legal aid, court reporting and open justice, and neurodivergence within the criminal justice system. He has published widely on these and related subjects. He has undertaken various research activities with NGOs, charities and government bodies, including working on cross-jurisdictional projects related to criminal defence and a pretrial detention reform project in China; delivering training for the Judicial College and College of Policing on disclosure; and giving evidence to the Victorian Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants and various House of Commons Select Committee inquiries. He is the founder and joint coordinator of the Neurodivergence in Criminal Justice Network (NICJN), a research and knowledge exchange group seeking to promote evidence-led practice in criminal justice processes involving neurodivergent individuals, which brings together expertise from academia, practice and the community.