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Journal article

No one knows, offenders with learning disabilities and learning difficulties

Author:
TALBOT Jenny
Journal article citation:
Tizard Learning Disability Review, 14(1), February 2009, pp.18-26.
Publisher:
Emerald

There is a lack of clarity about the prevalence of offenders with learning disabilities and learning difficulties. However, it is clear is that, regardless of actual numbers, many offenders have learning disabilities and learning difficulties that interfere with their ability to cope within the criminal justice system. No One Knows is a UK-wide programme led by the Prison Reform Trust that aims to effect change by exploring and publicising the experiences of people with learning disabilities and learning difficulties who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The article highlights the aims of the No One Knows programme and considers recent research on prevalence, the views of prison staff on how prisoners with learning disabilities of difficulties were identified and their needs met, and draws attention to some of the reasons for the different findings.

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No one knows: identifying and supporting prisoners with learning difficulties and learning disabilities: the views of prison staff in Northern Ireland

Authors:
LOUCKS Nancy, TALBOT Jenny
Publisher:
Prison Reform Trust
Publication year:
2008
Pagination:
50p., bibliog.
Place of publication:
London

This report is one in a series of reports and briefing papers from No One Knows. It sets out the views of prison staff in Scotland on how prisoners with learning difficulties and learning disabilities are identified and supported. The report begins with an outline of the aims and methods for this particular study. It then briefly provides the context for prisoners with learning difficulties and learning disabilities in Scotland. The main body of the report covers the views of prison staff regarding how prisoners with learning difficulties or learning disabilities are identified and supported in their prisons. The conclusion sets out the main findings, together with preliminary recommendations for change and ways to build on existing good practice.

Journal article

No One Knows: offenders with learning difficulties and learning disabilities

Authors:
TALBOT Jenny, RILEY Chris
Journal article citation:
British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35(3), September 2007, pp.154-161.
Publisher:
Wiley-Blackwell

The prevalence of offenders with learning difficulties and learning disabilities is not agreed upon. What is clear, however, is that, regardless of actual numbers, many offenders have learning difficulties that reduce their ability to cope within the criminal justice system, for example, not understanding fully what is happening to them in court or being unable to access various aspects of the prison regime, including some offending behaviour programmes. Offenders with learning difficulties are not routinely identified and, as a result, often do not receive the support they need. No One Knows is a UK wide programme led by the Prison Reform Trust that aims to effect change by exploring and publicizing the experiences of people with learning difficulties who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The article highlights the aims of No One Knows and describes what, for the purpose of the programme, we mean by ‘learning difficulties and learning disabilities’. Problems in identifying precise numbers of offenders with learning difficulties and learning disabilities are discussed and attention drawn to recent research on prevalence. The context and some of the challenges of ‘prison life’ are identified and a number of early research findings from No One Knows are presented.

Book Full text available online for free

No one knows: identifying and supporting prisoners with learning difficulties and learning disabilities: the views of prison staff

Author:
TALBOT Jenny
Publisher:
Prison Reform Trust
Publication year:
2007
Pagination:
66p.
Place of publication:
London

No One Knows is a UK-wide programme led by the Prison Reform Trust that aims to effect change by exploring and publicising the experiences of people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system. A preliminary report, identifying and supporting prisoners with learning difficulties and learning disabilities is the first in a series of reports and briefing papers from No One Knows. It covers preliminary findings on research undertaken into the views of prison staff on how prisoners with learning difficulties and learning disabilities are identified and supported.

Journal article Full text available online for free

Prisoners with learning disabilities and learning difficulties

Author:
TALBOT Jenny
Journal article citation:
Prison Service Journal, 195, May 2011, pp.29-35.
Publisher:
Her Majesty's Prison Service of England and Wales

It is generally recognised that between 5-10% of the adult offending population have learning disabilities. This article examines the importance of recognising such disabilities within the prison service. A prisoner’s ability to get on in prison is predicated on a number of factors, including the ability to understand what is expected of them and to be understood, and the ability to read and write. Results from learning disability screening tools, completed by prisoners as part of the interview process, show that over two-thirds experienced difficulties in verbal comprehension skills, including difficulties understanding certain words and in expressing themselves. The article highlights many of the findings from the Prison Reform Trust’s No One Knows programme, which concluded that the criminal justice system does not recognise or meet the particular needs of people with learning disabilities and difficulties. Consequently, criminal justice agencies, including prisons, are failing in their legal duty to promote disability equality and to eliminate discrimination.

Journal article

Prisoners' voices: experiences of the criminal justice system by prisoners with learning disabilities

Author:
TALBOT Jenny
Journal article citation:
Tizard Learning Disability Review, 15(3), July 2010, pp.33-41.
Publisher:
Emerald

This article is based on a UK-wide programme of work run by the Prison Reform Trust entitled No One Knows and, in particular, on interviews with prisoners conducted as part of the No One Knows programme. No One Knows aims to effect change by exploring and publicising the experiences of people with learning disabilities and learning difficulties who come into contact with the police and who subsequently enter the criminal justice system and the effect that their impairments have on their ability to cope with the criminal justice process. The research was undertaken in 2007 and involved 173 interviews in 14 prisons; 10 of which were in England and Wales and 4 in Scotland. Of these interviews 154 were conducted with prisoners identified by staff as having learning disabilities or difficulties, and 19 were conducted with comparison prisoners without learning disabilities or difficulties. Prisoners were asked about their experiences of the criminal justice system, including at the police station, in court and in prison, and about their aspirations for the future. The findings demonstrate the difficulties that the prisoners have with: reading and writing; understanding and being understood; prison rules and discipline; being scared and bullied; support with daily living; and depression and anxiety. The article concludes that, once in the criminal justice system, people with learning disabilities and difficulties struggle to cope. At worst this can affect their right to a fair hearing in court and, if they are sentenced to custody, may mean longer in prison.

Journal article

No One Knows: identifying and supporting prisoners with learning difficulties and learning disabilities: the views of prison staff

Author:
TALBOT Jenny
Journal article citation:
Advances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, 2(1), March 2008, pp.50-53.
Publisher:
Emerald

No One Knows is a major initiative by the UK Prison Reform Trust which highlights the plight and predicament of prisoners with learning disabilities and of those with less severe degrees of learning difficulties. This article reports on early recommendations from their research which listened to the views of prison staff. The study cohort was taken from prisons in England and Wales.

Journal article

Adult defendants with learning disabilities and the criminal courts

Authors:
TALBOT Jenny, JACOBSON Jenny
Journal article citation:
Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, 1(2), July 2010, pp.16-26.
Publisher:
Emerald

Following on the Prison Reform Trust’s ‘No One Knows’ programme (2006-2009) briefing papers were published (Appendix 1). This paper acknowledges that 5-10% of offenders in the UK are people with learning disabilities (LD) and have few provisions made to ensure that they understand and can participate effectively in the criminal justice proceedings of which they are a part. These authors advise that if people with LD cannot participate effectively, prosecution is often deemed inappropriate and they may be diverted from criminal justice into health care. This article defines the legal framework in terms of the ‘fitness to plead’, ‘right to a fair trial’, ‘Disability Discrimination Act 2005’ and the inclusion agenda. It also details defendants’ own accounts of court experiences. The article then describes measures, such as liaison and diversion schemes, which could be put into place to support and maximise defendants’ changes of participating effectively in the law courts. A final section entitled ‘court disposals’ deals with outcomes is terms of diversion away from the criminal justice system, using the Mental Health Act 1983, as amended in 2007. These authors claim, in terms of statutory provision, a lack of parity between vulnerable witnesses and vulnerable defendants, and in the absence of effective screening procedures to identify defendants’ LDs, support needs often go unrecognised and unmet.

Journal article

No one knows: offenders with learning difficulties and learning disabilities

Author:
TALBOT Jenny
Journal article citation:
Prison Service Journal, 171, May 2007, pp.28-34.
Publisher:
Her Majesty's Prison Service of England and Wales

No One Knows is a programme launched by the Prison Reform Trust which aims to effect change by exploring and publicising the experiences of people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system. This article reports on their research into the views of prison staff on how prisoners with learning difficulties and disabilities were identified and supported. The article highlights prison staff recommendations for change.

Book Full text available online for free

Prisoners' voices: experiences of the criminal justice system by prisoners with learning disabilities and difficulties

Author:
TALBOT Jenny
Publisher:
Prison Reform Trust
Publication year:
2008
Pagination:
102p., bibliog.
Place of publication:
London

For the past three years No One Knows has been researching people with learning disabilities and learning difficulties who enter the criminal justice system in the UK, their experiences as they travel through it and in particular the effect their impairments have on their ability to cope with the criminal justice process. This study hears directly from prisoners themselves. The report is in four parts: part one describes the aims of the study and the methods used. Prisoners were identified by prison staff and 173 agreed to be interviewed, screening results suggested that 34 prisoners had possible learning or borderline learning disabilities. A further 73 prisoners were identified as also likely to experience difficulties with verbal comprehension. Part two of the report tells of prisoners’ experiences of the criminal justice system, their lives immediately before they were arrested and aspirations for the future. Part three discusses five overarching themes from the three year No One Knows programme: disability discrimination and possible human rights abuses; knowing who has learning disabilities or difficulties; implications for the criminal justice system; a needs led approach: collaborative multi-agency working; and workforce development. Part four draws on the full three year No One Knows programme to make recommendations for change.

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