Identification and support of autistic individuals within the UK Criminal Justice System: A practical approach based upon professional consensus with input from lived experience

Emma Woodhouse, Jack Hollingdale, Lisa Davies, Zainab Al-Attar, Susan Young, Luke P. Vinter, Kwaku Agyemang, Carla Bartlett, Colleen Berryessa, Eddie Chaplin, Quinton Deeley, Ian Freckelton, Felicity Gerry, Gisli Gudjonsson, Katie Maras, Michelle Mattison, Jane McCarthy, Richard Mills, Peter Misch, David MurphyClare Allely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Autism spectrum disorder (hereafter referred to as autism) is characterised by difficulties with (i) social communication, social interaction, and (ii) restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours. Estimates of autism prevalence within the criminal justice system (CJS) vary considerably, but there is evidence to suggest that the condition can be missed or misidentified within this population. Autism has implications for an individual’s journey through the CJS, from police questioning and engagement in court proceedings through to risk assessment, formulation, therapeutic approaches, engagement with support services, and long-term social and legal outcomes.

Methods: This consensus based on professional opinion with input from lived experience aims to provide general principles for consideration by United Kingdom (UK) CJS personnel when working with autistic individuals, focusing on autistic offenders and those suspected of offences. Principles may be transferable to countries beyond the UK. Multidisciplinary professionals and two service users were approached for their input to address the effective identification and support strategies for autistic individuals within the CJS.

Results: The authors provide a consensus statement including recommendations on the general principles of effective identification, and support strategies for autistic individuals across different levels of the CJS.

Conclusion: Greater attention needs to be given to this population as they navigate the CJS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number157
JournalBMC medicine
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2024

Data Availability Statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

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