cell doorMore alternatives to prison should be available for people with learning disabilities who have broken the law, according to a new report.

The report by The Ideas Collective, a network of people who aim to share ideas about what works best for people with learning disabilities, highlights evidence that shows people with learning disabilities are still over-represented in the youth and criminal justice systems. To address this more evidence is needed about how to:

Stop people with learning disabilities engaging in risky or offending behaviour that gets them into trouble with the law

Increase the availability of alternatives to prison or hospital

Help people resettle successfully following detention.

The report gives some examples of good practice, including early intervention with young people and a better understanding of learning disability issues by professionals, such as the police, which can help to prevent offending behaviour.

The Ideas Collective is now calling for further evidence of good practice. “Although they make up only 2% of the general population in the UK, 5-10% of people detained by police or in prison have learning disabilities – that translates to as many as 6,000 people in prison, with hundreds more detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act,” said Alison Giraud-Saunders, one of the authors of the report.

“We need to raise awareness and develop solutions that support people not to offend in the first place, or to stop behaviours that get them into trouble.

“Over the next few months we are reaching out to organisations working with people who have learning disabilities and to youth and criminal justice colleagues to find out how they’re addressing these challenges and working to ensure people get the right support at the right time to prevent offending behaviour and stop reoffending for good.”