Conference on Supporting Learning Disabled Offenders – Maidstone – 9th November 2016 Cartref Homes Logo

Cartref Homes UK Ltd (ARC members) hosted their first ever conference in celebration of the 10th birthday of their forensic step-down service at Whiteleaf Cottage in Teynham, Kent.

An excellent line up of speakers, comprising Professor the Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (Chair of the National Mental Capacity Forum), Professor Glynis Murphy (Chartered Clinical and Forensic Psychologist) ; Jenny Talbot (Director of Care not Custody Programme, Prison Reform Trust); Jimmy Kerrigan (CCG Commissioning Manager for LD offenders in the community); Andy Inett (Consultant Forensic Psychologist) , Dr Neil Sinclair (Consultant Clinical Psychologist) delivered a stimulating range of presentations on various aspects relating to the support of people with a learning disability who offend.

Baroness Finlay’s presentation raised interest in the audience of whether the MCA sufficiently addresses the capacity of people whose lack of impulse control directly contributes to their offending behaviour.

Professor Murphy presented research on the prevalence of people with learning disabilities found in the criminal justice system (CJS) and of those who have offended living in the community. She also considered the vulnerability of this service user group with regards their ability to navigate the processes of the criminal justice system (e.g. understanding the caution when arrested, acquiescing during investigation interviews, coping with the court room experience).

Of note in Jenny Talbot’s presentation was the disproportionate number of people in contact with the CJS who have a learning disability. Jenny emphasised that the CJS must be seen to be fair to all citizens and that this can only be true for people with a learning disability when proper procedural support and reasonable adjustments are made.

We then heard from Jimmy Kerrigan, who spoke of the challenges of commissioning multi-agency cross- sector provision for this complex service user group – especially with regards sharing the risks associated with such work.

Thereafter we were treated to a clinical perspective on the support of this service user group. Dr Sinclair discussed the origins of offending behaviour – the research he referred to underlining the significant impact of early trauma from adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and the absence of the ‘positive nurturing adult’ role that so influences adult conduct.

Andy Inett spoke of the community forensic service in which he works and the adapted offending behaviour programmes they run – using the sex offending treatment programme (SOTP) as an illustration of the type of model used.

Anecdotal feedback from participants and audience members suggest the conference was well-received and Cartref Homes will therefore be planning other events of a similar nature.

For those interested in seeing the presentation materials from this conference these can be found on the Tizard website (www.kent.ac.uk/tizard) and shortly a transcript of the day will be available on the Cartref Homes UK Ltd website (www.cartrefhomes.co.uk).