People with learning disabilities in a low secure in-patient unit: comparison of offenders and non-offenders

S Reed, Ailsa J Russell, K Xentidis, D G M Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (SciVal)


Background: People with learning disability who exhibit challenging behaviour are frequently segregated from services and local teams are often reluctant to receive them back into their care. This situation is worse in those whose challenging behaviour includes a forensic history, but the difference between those labelled as challenging and those treated as offenders is not clear, and there is a lack of evidence about treatment effectiveness.

Aims: To test between-group differences in aggression and treatment outcome in people with learning disability and challenging behaviour, with and without a forensic history.

Method: Clinical records of 86 former in-patients (45 offenders and 41 non-offenders) of a specialist unit were compared on measures of behavioural disturbance and placement outcome.

Results: People in the offenders group were significantly less likely to be aggressive to others and to use weapons, but significantly more likely to harm themselves compared with the non-offenders group. Both groups had a significant reduction in their challenging behaviour during admission, and there was no significant difference in treatment outcome.

Conclusions: The negative reputation of people with learning disabilities who offend needs to be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-504
Number of pages6
JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


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