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Contributing factors to providing an effective community-based forensic service for people with a learning disability: a literature review

Anna Leonie Wark (Creative Support Ltd, Stockport, UK)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Article publication date: 4 October 2019

Issue publication date: 4 October 2019




Legislative guidance stipulates that people with a learning disability have the right to receive local provision of personalised support within the least restrictive environment. On these bases there is a growing emphasis on the requirement for local authorities to develop appropriate services for people who are currently in a hospital setting. The purpose of this paper is to examine the literature addressing factors influencing the provision of effective community-based forensic services.


The six articles were analysed separately using the evaluation tool – Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose. The six articles used divergent sample groups and employed both qualitative and quantitative methods to collate data. The articles shared a purpose of examining forensic community service provision with an aim to improve services.


There were three themes that emerged consistently across the literature these included: balancing risk management vs individual autonomy; multi-disciplinary and multi-agency working; service improvement. There is a growing emphasis on the need to replace long-term hospital placements with specialist, community provision, employing least restrictive methods and positive responses to crisis situations. In this climate, it is crucial that multi-disciplinary agencies from local authority, health and the charitable and private sector continue to work collaboratively on the integration of service provision in order to bring about the development of effective and responsive community services.

Research limitations/implications

Research limited to peer reviewed and published research papers focusing on the subject of community forensic services with publications specifically made within the time frame of the Transforming Care Agenda.

Practical implications

This paper looks to examine the practical solutions to providing effective community forensic services for a person with an intellectual disability and makes recommendations for research into improving service specific training for support staff.

Social implications

Following the Winterbourne View Hospital scandal (BBC One, 2011) instigations were made to make legislative change under the Transforming Care Agenda. Despite a renewed conviction in the rights of people to be a part of their local community without segregation or discrimination, professionals in the field continue to report a failure to reduce numbers of people in long stay hospitals and secure settings. With commissioning under pressure to make these intentions a reality it is a really good time to reflect on practice and evaluate service models to establish the factors that bring about positive outcomes for individuals enabling inclusion within community settings.


This review will focus on the literature evidencing positive intervention and outcome focussed methods of supporting people with a forensic history in the community. This is an entirely original piece of work analysing peer reviewed and published research.



Wark, A.L. (2019), "Contributing factors to providing an effective community-based forensic service for people with a learning disability: a literature review", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 45-57.



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