The experiences of some of the young people involved in Raising Your Game have informed a new report on increasing understanding of learning disability in the criminal justice system.
Between 20% and 30% of all offenders have a learning disability or difficulty that affects their ability to cope in the criminal justice system, according to a report by the Prison Reform Trust.
Research from another report suggests the failure of youth offending teams to identify young people with disabilities or difficulties could be contributing to the problem.
The new research aims to find out whether recognising a young person’s difficulties earlier, and providing appropriate support, might help young people stay out of trouble.
The research also looks at whether the support received by the young people changed once they came into contact with the youth justice system.
Find out more
To read the Prison Reform Trust’s report, please email: email@example.com
Why are there so many people with a learning disability or communication difficulty in young offender institutions?
They have not been assessed before they get there. The criminal justice system has been landed with people who the system should have sorted out earlier. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is not geared up to deal with them.
What do you think can be done to change this?
The first thing is to make sure that every child in this country is assessed as early as possible. Every child should be entering primary school able to communicate with the teacher. But it shouldn’t stop there. We need reassessment at various stages.
There should be a speech and language therapist in every young offender institution.
Philanthropist Lady Helen Hamlyn funded two speech and language therapists, in two places, for two years as a trial. Within a month, the governors were saying “before they came along, we were damaging these young people because we were putting everything down as bad behaviour. I don’t know how we coped.”
How do you think Raising Your Game can help?
You have identified a group of people, who – if their problems and needs are identified much earlier – will have a better life.
Anyone who needs to know how to help, you can advise them. And if anyone says “I don’t think that will work”, you can say “yes it will”. This is the great thing – you are not just talking about it, you’ve done it.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are looking at two bits of legislation. One is the healthcare bill, because that allows us to talk about the speech and language assessment. To make certain that the requirement to do it is actually put into law. The second thing is the education bill. We want people to engage with education at an early age. We can’t miss this opportunity.
What advice do you give those working with people with a communication difficulty?
They should take up your offer of communication difficulty awareness training.
Find out more about Raising Your Game’s communication difficulty awareness training.
Ellen Goodey interviews Lord Ramsbotham at the House of Lords
Ellen asks some hard hitting questions
In my latest blog I meet Lord Ramsbotham, the former chief inspector of prisons, and ask him some questions about young people who offend, what he is up to at the moment and about Raising Your Game.