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CBA Lecture: Neurodiversity in Law

Thursday 19th May

18.00 – 19.00hrs

Online Zoom Lecture

Speakers include:

Professor Amanda Kirby MBBS MRCGP PhD

Mark Robinson, Criminal Barrister

Dr Tom Smith, Neurodivergence in Criminal Justice Network (NICJN)

It is estimated that 1 in 3 people in the Criminal Justice System are Neurodiverse. In 2020, after responding to calls of concern from staff in the CJS about Neurodiverse people, an independent review was undertaken. The findings, published in 2021, were shocking. The report identified serious gaps, failings and missed opportunities for defendants at every stage. The CJS, which aspires to dispense justice fairly to all people in society, are letting Neurodiverse people down in an unacceptable way.

The purpose of this lecture is to:

  1. Identify what Neurodiversity is.
  2. Analyse its impact on the Criminal Justice System (CJS)
  3. Explore how neurodiversity impacts Adult and Youth claimants and defendants within a trial process and considerations for adjustments/accommodations to be made
  4. Evaluate the implications for the CJS and the members of the Criminal Bar.


Speakers Biographies:

Professor Amanda Kirby MBBS MRCGP PhD 

Amanda is the founder and CEO of Do-IT Solutions, a tech for good company that provides tools, training and consultancy in the area of neurodiversity and wellbeing

Amanda is an emeritus professor at the University of South Wales and an honorary professor at Cardiff University in Wales. She has clinical and research experience and founded and ran a transdisciplinary clinical and research team for 20 years relating to neurodiversity. She is a qualified GP and has a Ph.D.  relating to emerging adulthood and neurodiversity.

Amanda has been on government advisory boards (e.g. Hidden Impairment National Group) as well as advising UK and international charities in the field of neurodiversity. This includes being a patron of the Dyspraxia Association in New Zealand, and Chair of Movement Matters UK. She is also the current chair of the ADHD Foundation and works closely with many other charities working in this area

She has written 9 books and more than 100 research papers in the field and her latest book was published in 2021:’Neurodiversity at Work, Drive Innovation, Performance and Productivity with a Neurodiverse Workforce’.  She has a new book on Neurodiversity in Education coming out later in 2022.

Amanda has lived experience of neurodiversity first hand, as she sees herself as neurodivergent as well as being a parent of neurodivergent children, and grandchildren. Amanda’s passion to make changes in society and increase the chances of showcasing talents for neurodivergent children and adults especially in work settings remains as strong as it was 30 years ago.


Mary Prior QC, Criminal Barrister



Mark Robinson, Criminal Barrister

Criminal Barrister, Mark Robinson had a truly unconventional path into the legal profession, with the odds having been against him.

At only 3 months old, Mark, physically abused by his birth mother, was placed in foster care, where he stayed until he was adopted six years later. Growing up in Forest Gate, he was excluded from secondary school and finished secondary education without any qualifications, after which he subsequently joined a gang.

When accused of stealing a push bike around the age of 16, Mark found himself at youth court, and received a referral order to probation where his probation officer willed him to find a different part. Mark, taking inspiration from her, vowed to make something more of himself; he recalls this as the turning point for his life.

Seeking more inspiration and purpose, Mark began his next endeavour – music. Attending a warehouse party in the summer of 1992 ignited an ambition in him to DJ. He used his savings and acquired a cheap set of turntables.

Surrounded by haters, people asserted that he would never make it as a DJ. Mark ignored them and would be rewarded for his perseverance with his own show on BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2007, signing a record deal and releasing an album with Ministry of Sound in 2009 and DJing around the world, throughout the USA, Canada, and Europe. Mark played several genres of music over his 20-year illustrious music career, from Jungle, Drum n Bass (which is still his favourite dance music) to House & Garage, UKG, Funky House, UK Funky and Tech House.

Things were going well until one night in the summer of 2012, Mark hosted an event, where a close friend was stabbed and unfortunately killed. Upon much reflection, he chose to retire from music.

Sometime after, things went from bad to worse, when in May of 2013 a disagreement with a jealous ex-partner of his now wife culminated in Mark being accused of attacking the ex with a hammer and charged with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm.

His knowledge of the legal system was almost nothing, however, growing frustrations with his preferred choice of counsel, whose trial unfortunately overran, meant that Mark ended up representing himself in Woolwich Crown Court in May of 2014 with less than 24 hours to prepare.

The prosecutor of the first trial took of his wig and went to put it on Mark’s head and said, “You should become an advocate”. Mark dismissed it at the time, but the prosecution barrister spoke something into being over Mark’s life.

Mark had a hung jury on the first trial and was forced to have a retrial, which Mark say’s nearly destroyed his mental health, however, his faith in God kept him going and at the conclusion of the second trial in November 2014, he was unanimously acquitted in under 90 minutes.

Mark received some career advice from the police officer that originally arrested him for the assault, who told him about the accredited police station legal representative scheme. Mark was then taken on by the solicitor’s firm that did his litigation over his two Crown Court trials.

Mark’s life was once again altered by a diagnosis of dyspraxia. Nevertheless, he began reading law at Birkbeck University of London in September of 2015 after having earned his place through an impressive case analysis test and graduated in June of 2018 with a high 2:1. Not bad for somebody with no GCSE’s and A levels.

Mark was working at a Youth Criminal Justice charity, Spark2Life at the time and worked with a particular young person who had their solicitor based in East London. Mark went to the firm to drop off a legal document and got into conversation with one of the partners of the firm. Impressed by his story, the partners at the solicitors took him out to dinner, where he was offered a Training Contract before he had even completed his second-year university exams.

Mark qualified as a solicitor, in June 2020 but always knowing his passion was advocacy, he transferred to the bar after receiving a full exemption from pupillage (barrister training) from the Bar Standards Board in October 2020.

Mark was called to the bar on 30 November 2020 and was offered a tenancy with a prestigious Central London Barrister’s Chambers, Great James Street and has been practicing from there since 1 December.

Mark is predominantly a criminal defence practitioner and regular instructed for all matters in the Crown Court and Court of Appeal.

In addition to his main area of practice, Mark advises on certain areas within media and entertainment law, bringing with him a wealth of experience from his BBC Radio 1Xtra days and specialises in public inquests and inquiries, regulatory and extradition.


Dr Tom Smith, Neurodivergence in Criminal Justice Network (NICJN)

Dr Tom Smith is an Associate Professor in Law and member of the Global Security, Crime and Justice research group, within the Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK. His research interests include remand (pretrial detention and bail); disclosure of evidence in criminal proceedings; criminal defence lawyers; criminal legal aid; court reporting and open justice; and neurodivergence within the criminal justice system.

Tom has published in various peer-reviewed law journals (including the Criminal Law Review and Howard Journal of Criminal Justice) and given papers at national and international conferences. 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 has co-edited a collection examining disclosure in the criminal justice process (2020), and is co-author of the book, Criminal Procedure and Punishment (2020, Hall & Stott). He is also editor of a forthcoming book on autistic suspects, defendants and offenders in the criminal justice system, and author of a forthcoming book chapter on police powers and autistic suspects.

Tom is the founder and Joint Co-ordinator 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.

More about the network and its activities is available here: Neurodivergence in Criminal Justice Network (NICJN) – Global Crime Justice Security | UWE Bristol





Silk £0.00
+7 Years £0.00
-7 Years £0.00
Pupil £0.00
Non Member £0.00

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