People with learning disabilities come into contact with the criminal justice system as:
- Witnesses - if they have seen or heard something happen that they need to tell the Police.
- Victims - if someone has done something to harm them and the Police are told about it.
- Someone accused or suspected of a crime - if someone thinks that they may have done something to break the law and the Police are finding out about it.
- Someone convicted of a crime - if they have been to court and found guilty of doing something which breaks the law.
- Jurors - the jury is the name for the group of members of the public who listen to evidence at trials in court.
People with learning disabilities are more likely to be victims or witnesses of crimes than commit crimes.
This guide is about making sure that people with learning disabilities are supported and protected when they have contact with criminal justice services.
Many people with learning disabilities live independently and do not need additional help from services.
A learning disability is a lifelong condition that means that the person may need help to:
- Understand information
- Learn to do things
- Be independent
- This comes from "The Same As You?" Publication by the Scottish Government (2000)
People with learning disabilities may need support to live independently.
Not everyone will need support.
Some people will need more support than others.
- People with learning disabilities may need help with:
- Understanding things
- With speech
- Explaining things
- A large number of people with learning disabilities may need help with these things
- People with learning disabilities may need help remembering things
- People with learning disabilities may also need help talking to people they don't know
People with learning disabilities may have additional communication support needs.
It is important for services to know about communication support needs like:
- Receptive language (understanding)
- Expressive language (talking)
- Social use of language
- Speech (making speech sounds clearly)
People with learning disabilities are all individuals.
Some people may need help with:
- Filling in forms
- Following instructions
- Telling the time
- Not everyone will need this help
Some people with learning disabilities prefer services to use the term Learning Difficulty.
The term Learning Difficulty is often used in Education Services to describe people who have problems with reading, writing or numbers.
People with learning disabilities also may need help with reading, writing or numbers.
It is important for services to understand the needs of people whether they have a learning disability or a learning difficulty.
What's important is the person not the label.
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