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The pictures in this category illustrate a wide range of scenarios, on both sides of the criminal justice system.
- Reporting crime and safeguarding: disclosure of abuse, reporting abuse or crime to the police, health and social services, education services, working with community policing;
- Being a witness at court: preparing to give evidence, visiting the courtroom, special measures, video link, adjusting communication;
- Getting support from ancillary services: Victim Support, women’s refuge, Independent Domestic Violence Advocate, social worker, counselling, recovering from crime and abuse;
- Police custody: arrest, swabbing, fingerprinting, police interview, appropriate adult, consulting a solicitor, bail;
- Appearing as a defendant: courtroom procedures and personnel, two possible outcomes to a trial;
- Going to prison: prison procedures and routines, induction, visitors, other prisoners, mental health worker, chaplain, release;
- Other legal sanctions: perpetrator programme.
People with learning disabilities, or other communication or learning difficulties are disproportionately likely to be involved with the criminal justice system, either as victims of some types of crimes, or through arrest, trial and imprisonment as perpetrators themselves.
High rates of educational and social exclusion, and the poverty, poor lifestyle and prospects that result, can make people more likely to offend or to get into trouble with the law. Communication difficulties can also make the criminal justice system hard to understand at every stage, and create barriers to people receiving fair treatment during arrest, charging and trial. Five to ten percent of the adult prison population in the UK have learning disabilities, and 60% have some kind of communication difficulty. This can add greatly to the difficulties of prison life, and lead to bullying, mental illness, poor health and health care, and lack of access to education and rehabilitation to reduce re-offending. Reasonable adjustments, specialist services and communication supports are needed throughout prosecution and court processes, and to support life in prison and parole, to ensure that people with learning disabilities and difficulties are not at risk from the system itself.
People with learning disabilities are also more likely than most to be the victims of abusive crimes, such as financial, sexual and domestic abuse, and of specific targeted disability hate crimes. In the UK there are legal supports, called special measures, available for vulnerable adults who have to appear as a witness in court, meaning that people who have experienced crime may be able to give evidence without being present in the courtroom, or that some court procedures are adjusted to make them easier for vulnerable witnesses to manage. In addition to this, mainstream services working with vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime – as well as police, social services and other statutory services – should ensure that they understand and cater to the specific needs of people with learning disabilities. This includes following approved safeguarding procedures, and making reasonable adjustments such as specialised emotional support or signposting, and using appropriate communication tools.
Our books help a wide range of people who understand pictures better than words, but their main audience is people with a learning disability, also known as an intellectual or developmental disability in other parts of the world.
This is a lifelong disability that may affect thinking, learning, emotional (adaptive) functioning and independent living skills. This sort of disability is distinct from a specific processing impairment, like dyslexia or attention deficit disorder. In the UK these impairments are typically referred to as “learning difficulties”, but this term is also preferred by some people with developmental disability, so the meaning is becoming blurred as people self-define.
As well as the primary audience, the books are often useful to people with low levels of literacy or specific processing impairment (“learning difficulties”, as per the traditional definition above), as well as people with sensory disabilities, other communication disorders (e.g. associated with dementia), and second language users.
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