Similarities found in characteristics of juvenile offenders with and without learning disabilities

Individuals more likely to be arrested or taken to ED if living indpependently or with family

This study from the Netherlands looked at whether it is possible to determine differences in personal characteristics and functioning between juvenile offenders under mandatory treatment orders who had a measured IQ of less than 70, between 70 and 85 and over 85. The authors were hoping to offer advice and guidance on ways to better fit supervision and treatment to specific needs in each of the identified groups.

They worked their way through 1,363 case files of serious juvenile offenders under a mandatory treatment order and scored them, using the juvenile forensic profile list. This is an instrument that uses more than 70 characteristics relevant to risk-assessment and measuring problem behaviour.

What they found was that behavioural, mental health problems and background characteristics of the juvenile offenders in each of the measured IQ bands were very similar.

They did find some differences, in social skills and relationships. They also suggest from their case reviews that the needs associated with a learning disability had important implications for the way treatment was offered.

They conclude that given a large proportion of serious juvenile offenders have learning disabilities, their findings are important to guide practice. They also recommend on-going reassessment of young people in the criminal justice system..

Serious juvenile offenders with and without intellectual disabilities, Kaal H et al., in Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, 3, 2, 66 – 76


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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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