There continues to be some debate about the numbers of people with learning disabilities in UK prisons, partly due to the lack of consensus on definitions of learning disability in studies and different approaches to establishing the boundaries between learning difficulty, borderline learning disability and learning disability. The Bradley report recommended amongst its key recommendations a study on the prevalence of people with learning disabilities in the criminal justice system.
In this study, the researchers looked at prison populations in England and Wales, and used the Quick Test scores equivalent to an IQ of ≤65 as there definition of learning disability.
Amongst the prisoners with learning disabilities found in this study, there was a high prevalence of probable psychosis, attempted suicide and cannabis use.
The researchers highlight the need for early identification of prisoners with learning disabilities and skilled interventions to help them cope better in the prison environment.
Psychiatric morbidity in prisoners with intellectual disabilities: analysis of prison survey data for England and Wales, Hassiotis et al, in British Journal of Psychiatry, 199, 2, 156-157