UK Law Commission Report into Unfitness To Plead
The unfitness to plead project looks at how defendants who lack sufficient ability to participate meaningfully in trial should be dealt with in the criminal courts. Defendants may be unfit to plead for a variety of reasons, including difficulties resulting from mental illness (longstanding or temporary), learning disability, developmental disorder or delay, a communication impairment or some other cause or combination of causes. …The purpose of the legal test is to identify, accurately and efficiently, those vulnerable defendants who, as a result of such difficulties, cannot fairly be tried. The related procedures then provide for an alternative process by which criminal allegations can be scrutinised and arrangements made, where appropriate, to provide treatment for the defendant and protection for the public. The aim of the law in this area is to balance the rights of the vulnerable defendant who cannot fairly be tried with the interests of those affected by the alleged offence and the need to protect the public.