Diagnostic information and adversity in childhood for offenders with learning disabilities referred to and accepted into forensic services

William R. Lindsay, Anthony J. Holland, John L. Taylor, Amanda M. Michie, Marie Bambrick, Gregory O'Brien, Derek Carson, Lesley Steptoe, Clare Middleton, Karen Price, Jessica R. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Several studies have related diagnostic information and adversity in childhood to criminal careers and risk of recidivism. Notably, ADHD and conduct disorder in childhood, schizophrenia, sexual abuse and physical abuse have been associated with offences in adulthood. This study investigates these variables in relation to large cohorts of offenders with learning disabilities. A case note review was undertaken for 126 individuals referred but not accepted into forensic learning disability services and 197 individuals accepted for such services. Results are reported on diagnostic information and experience of adversity in childhood. ADHD/conduct disorder featured prominently in both groups. Autistic spectrum disorders were not particularly over‐represented. For adversity in childhood, general socioeconomic deprivation featured prominently in both groups. This also increased significantly for those accepted into services. Sexual abuse and non‐accidental injury were featured at around 13‐20% for both groups. These results are broadly consistent with the mainstream literature on offending, ADHD/conduct disorder and general deprivation featuring significantly in all groups and rising for those accepted into offender services. It is important to deal with these aspects during assessment and to provide appropriate psychotherapeutic services for these individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalAdvances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


Cite this