The Law Commission of England and Wales has published a report on unfitness to plead
that looks at the legal tests and rules for determining whether an accused is physically and/or metnally fit to plead [links to consultation documents and to the final report at the bottom of the page]:
"Our starting point is that full and fair trial should be achieved
wherever possible. We make recommendations to ensure that the normal
trial process is adjusted wherever necessary to ensure that defendants
can be tried in the normal way when that can fairly be achieved."
"In order to reduce unnecessary costs and delays, our recommendations
also include the streamlining of the clinical assessment process for
defendants with participation difficulties."
"We recommend a new legal test which will accurately identify those
who are unable to participate effectively in their trial. Under our
recommendations these defendants who lack capacity for trial will be
dealt with in a reformed alternative hearing where all aspects of the
allegation will be fairly scrutinised."
"Under our reforms the judge will have more robust and effective
options for dealing with defendants who lack capacity for trial. The
court will be able to provide for more constructive support of the
individual within the community, as well as having greater powers to
monitor the progress of the individual under supervision and to impose
restrictions where that is necessary to ensure public safety."
"Significant concerns have been raised during the project about the
current lack of an effective legal framework for addressing
participation difficulties experienced by young defendants in the youth
court. Our recommendations also introduce, for the first time, a
statutory scheme for addressing unfitness to plead in the magistrates’
and youth courts, in line with that which we recommend for the Crown
Labels: criminal law, law commissions, UK