Inspection finds offenders with learning disabilities are not being supported
- 30 Jan
An inspection has found that offenders with learning disabilities are not receiving the support they need from police, probation and prosecution services.
The inspection looking into the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice systems was conducted by HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and the Care Quality Commission.
Inspectors for the services alongside the Care Quality Commission, estimate that 30% of people going through the criminal justice system have such conditions, reports the BBC.
The report found that many police custody sergeants lacked training and were unable to spot conditions such as autism. Most forces also failed to have access to medical or psychiatric support.
There is no agreed definition about what constitutes learning difficulties or disabilities across criminal justice and health organisations.
Within the report it was found that those with learning disabilities were often regarded as problem to be processed instead of a person with particular needs. It found that offenders were not receiving the support they needed in order to reduce their risk of harm to others or likelihood of reoffending.
Michael Fuller, chief inspector of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, said the inspection "found some excellent examples of professionals going the extra mile to ensure that individual offenders with learning disabilities received the appropriate support they required. Such instances were exceptional and these deficits were mirrored across the criminal justice system. A balance needs to be struck between the support needs of those with learning disabilities and the need to hold them to account, where appropriate, for their offending."
The report found that in two thirds of cases that were inspected the CPS was not being provided at key stages with information about the offender's learning disability. It is urging agencies to come up with a common definition of learning disability and make information on individuals easily passed on.
"If offender engagement is to have any real meaning it has to start with an understanding of the offender's learning ability and style based on an effective screening of all offenders," Mr Fuller said. "For those with a learning disability this is even more important as failure to identify and address their needs denies them their right to access services both inside and outside the criminal justice system."
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