“I’d trust them if they understood learning disabilities” support needs of people with learning disabilities in the Criminal Justice System

Ruth Howard (Department of Psychology, University of York, York, UK)
Emma Phipps (Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Middlesbrough, UK)
Jane Clarbour (University of York, York, UK)
Kelly Rayner (Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, UK)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

People with learning disabilities (LD) often lack necessary support in navigating and coping within the Criminal Justice System (CJS). The purpose of this paper is to explore their experiences, from their own perspective, and identify the supports which need to be implemented.

Design/methodology/approach

Focus groups were held with nine patients in a forensic LD service, discussing their experiences and support needs within the CJS. Template analysis was undertaken on the transcripts.

Findings

Four themes were identified: negative feelings, professional attitudes, suitability of the CJS, and supports needed.

Practical implications

This research demonstrates the valuable opinions to be obtained from offenders with LD on their experiences and needs. Implications for the CJS include a need for further awareness, training, and expertise to work effectively with people with LD. Participant perspectives also highlight the importance of consistent liaison and diversion schemes, and indicate that CJS services may have something to learn from healthcare settings.

Originality/value

Previous knowledge of offenders with LD overlooked the perspective of the service user. This research has given this group a voice, and has benefited from their insight. This is a timely piece of research in the current landscape of the CJS, and so these findings may be of practical value to the implementation of supports, particularly the liaison and diversion schemes.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Anne-Marie Billington and Maninder Kaur Nagra for help with transcription of audio files.

Citation

Howard, R., Phipps, E., Clarbour, J. and Rayner, K. (2015), "“I’d trust them if they understood learning disabilities” support needs of people with learning disabilities in the Criminal Justice System", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 4-14. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIDOB-05-2015-0011

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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