Offenders with Learning Difficulties

The HM Inspector of Probation and the HM Inspector of Prisons have worked together to produce a report onthe treatment of offenders with learning difficulties. Their lengthy report can be found byfollowing the links below.

The conclusions at which the inspectors arrived were:

“Although there have been some national and local improvements to services for this group of offenders and prisoners, these have been limited and slow to implement. There was also evidence that many prisons and and probation trusts were either unaware or unwilling to implement National Offender Management Service instructions and the Equality Act 2010.

The main factor that probation and prison leaders, both nationally and locally, appear to miss is that they have a statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments to the services they provide to make them accessible to all offenders with disabilities, including those with a learning disability. The failure to screen, and, therefore, not know the number of prisoners and probation service users with learning disabilities does not remove their obligation under the Equality Act 2010.

Although tools and guidance were helpful, staff need to know how to use and where to find them, if they are to be of value when working with people with learning disabilities. They also have to be introduced alongside continuing training and awareness raising for all staff.

The failure of most prisons to routinely screen all prisoners, either at reception or at other stages during the prisoner’s time in custody, meant that prisoners with learning disabilities were being missed. The experiences of the prisoners we interviewed shows how important it is that their individual needs are better understood and met to ensure they are held safely, without discrimination and have equitable access to prison procedures and interventions to reduce their risk of reoffending”