Neurodivergence Webinar Series: Part 1 - Understanding Neurodivergence in the Justice System

Tuesday 17 October 2023, 5.30pm - 6.30pm


Jodie Blackstock

Caroline Finlayson

Tracy Hammond

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to launch a series of webinars exploring neurodivergence in the justice system.

Date: Tuesday 17 October 2023
Time: 5.30pm - 6.30pm
Venue: Online  
Cost: Free

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This webinar provided an introduction to the range of neurodivergent experiences, the co-occurring conditions that can be associated with them, and the heightened impact legal proceedings can have on communication and processing difficulties for neurodivergent clients. The aim of the session was to demonstrate how the fundamental right to effective participation is impacted for clients with neurodivergence, setting up the importance of adapting to your clients’ needs to be further explored in the subsequent sessions in the series. 

Our webinar series 'Neurodivergence in the Justice System', will cover a range of practice areas, recounting the experiences and examining the challenges faced by neurodivergent people involved in the justice system in England and Wales, whether as witnesses, defendants, lawyers or otherwise. These webinars will bring together experts from legal practice, academia, policy and other professionals to consider the flaws in the current system, identify instances of best practice and propound changes that could be made to improve access to justice, equality and diversity in the courts. 

Speaker Panel

Jodie Blackstock, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Jodie is a public law and human rights specialist, with extensive experience in justice system reform through policy, research and strategic litigation. Jodie's particular interest is in challenging, through judicial review and civil actions, criminal justice system actors for violations of fair trial standards, abuse and death in custody. She is particularly concerned for the effective participation rights of adults with disabilities and children accused of crime.

Caroline Finlayson, Lead Speech and Language Therapist, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Caroline has worked in the NHS as a Speech and Language Therapist for more than 20 years. She has worked in Adult Autism and Learning Disabilities services since 2009 and her passion lies in enabling those who have communication difference to communicate more successfully. She is currently trying to bring recognition of Autistic Communication Differences to the Community Mental Health Teams in Cornwall. She also supports those who are vulnerable due to their communication differences to give their evidence to the Police and in Court. As an Intermediary, she has supported over 250 people to give their evidence and undergo cross examination. 

Tracy Hammond, Research and Innovation Director, KeyRing Living Support Networks
Tracy’s first career was an equestrian one. Whilst working as Chief Instructor at a Riding for the Disabled she became curious about ‘what makes people tick’, and this has been a theme for the rest of her working life. She went on to work with people who were said to have behavioural support needs and concluded that the logical result of many services is behaviour that challenges.

Tracy joined KeyRing in 2001. She has since had a variety of roles with the organisation, working in areas such as development, engagement, and communication. She has led KeyRing’s Criminal Justice policy work for many years and is passionate about getting the stories of people who have been poorly served by the system into the domain of decision makers.

The Working for Justice Group
The Working for Justice Group is a group of people with learning disabilities and/or autism who have been through the Criminal Justice System.  They come together regularly as a reference group to support sector change, always with the aim of making the system more equal and fairer for people in trouble.  They generously tell of their experiences and struggles so that professionals understand the needs of neurodivergent people, the value of good and early support, and the importance of making reasonable adjustments. Most members of the group are also trainers and speakers and have spoken truth to power on many occasions.

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