People with intellectual disabilities in criminal justice settings

Dr Fergus Douds, Dr Jana de Villiers and Ms Jane Macer

60 minutes


February 2017

CPD domain:
Clinical, Professional

Learning module

People with intellectual disabilities in a criminal justice setting.jpg

This module is aimed at psychiatrists with limited experience of working with people with intellectual disabilities (PWID). The assessment and treatment of PWID who have forensic issues can be a challenging task.

PWID frequently have very significant comorbid physical and mental health needs; a knowledge and awareness of both is important with regard to assessment and treatment. In addition psychiatrists must be very aware and take account of the communication impairments which most PWID will demonstrate. Various facets of the Criminal Justice System impede PWID from participating fully and fairly. Psychiatrists need to have knowledge of the problematic issues that can arise, for example in relation to clinical, legal and ethical considerations.

The main aims of this module are to:

  • provide an overview of important facts associated with ID,
  • provide an overview of specific issues relevant to PWID with forensic issues,
  • emphasise and demonstrate the importance of communicating effectively – particularly during the initial assessment.


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