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Friend or fake? Mate crimes and people with learning disabilities

David Grundy (Project Worker at ARC – the Association for Real Change, Halifax, UK)

Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2042-0927

Article publication date: 10 October 2011




This short paper aims to promote the issues of mate crime, which many people with a learning disability are victims of. For some this will lead them into committing criminal acts and bring them into contact with the criminal justice system.


These are the findings from the work of the Safety Net project. Much of the information is anecdotal and certainly was not the focus of the project; however, this does suggest that the findings within this paper and the project are likely to be replicated across the country.


Mate crime is a hidden crime, reporting of these crimes is low; they are often committed by people who the person with a learning disability thought was their friend. However, the Safety Net project has heard examples of people taken advantage of by “friends” which have led to drug dealing in their flat, flats used for the storing of stolen goods and women with a learning disability into prostitution.

Research limitations/implications

More research is certainly needed in this area with data required to confirm the assumptions within this paper.

Practical implications

The criminal justice system may need to have a greater consideration for the role of those around the person with a learning disability when they are charged with criminal offences.


Mate crime, a term used by this project, is just coming into common usage to highlight this type of exploitation. Although the focus of this Safety Net project was not on those offending we have come across examples of this. More work is needed.



Grundy, D. (2011), "Friend or fake? Mate crimes and people with learning disabilities", Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 167-169.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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