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Survey Invitation – Access to Justice and Autism

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Dr Roxanna Dehaghani (a Senior Lecturer in Law at Cardiff University) and Dr Tom Smith (Associate Professor in Law at the University of the West of England) are undertaking research about how autistic individuals accused of crime access justice through legal representation.


The aim of this project is to:

  • explore the effectiveness of criminal defence advice and representation for Autistic suspects and defendants; to understand how effectively Autistic suspects and defendants are represented and supported by lawyers during criminal proceedings;
  • and to examine what practical changes, if any, can be made to improve advice and assistance of and representation for Autistic suspects and defendants, such as examples of best practice.

We hope that the findings will help police station representatives, criminal defence solicitors, and barristers in their work with Autistic and neurodivergent clients and will help Autistic suspects and defendants to receive appropriate and effective service, by improving knowledge and understanding of how they are advised and represented during criminal proceedings.

 The research team has significant experience working with public and third sector organisations to improve the treatment of vulnerable people in the criminal justice system. Dehaghani has, for example, worked closely with the National Appropriate Adult Network, the Home Office, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, and the Independent Custody Visiting Association to improve the rights and welfare of suspects in police custody. Smith has delivered training for the Judicial College and College of Policing. 


We would be grateful if you could share this call for survey participants with your members. We are seeking responses to this survey from criminal defence solicitors, criminal barristers, and accredited police station representatives (APSRs), practicing in England and Wales. In terms of involvement, this short survey should take no more than 15 -20 minutes to complete. 


Survey data will be anonymously reported and will be held confidentially. Important information is on the first page of the survey, which will provide further insight into what participants will receive when deciding whether to take part in the study.


Link to survey here:


We would be happy to feed back to your organisation on our findings. 


We will also be conducting interviews at a later stage of the research and will be in touch closer to the time with more information.