‘Improving support for offenders with learning disabilities to complete their sentence’
The next SOLD event will be on Wednesday 21st March 2018 at Norton Park Conference Centre in Edinburgh.
The theme will be ‘improving support for offenders with learning disabilities to complete their sentence’
The Scottish Government is committed to the principle of presumption against short term prison sentences, and increased use of community based disposals. We are keen to ensure fair and equal access to CPOs, and that offenders with learning disabilities receive the support they need to comply and avoid unnecessarily breaching their Order. We are also aware that many offenders with learning disabilities are stuck in a revolving door of being released from prison, reoffending and going back to prison. We are therefore keen also to investigate the reasons for this and ways of breaking these cycles of reoffending.
The event will explore the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities and other communication needs, both in prison and on CPOs. We will investigate the challenges involved in ensuring people can get the support they need. We will also look at initiatives that are currently in place, the kinds of supports that have been shown to be effective and which people need, and some models of support being used for other groups of offenders that could be adapted to benefit offenders with learning disabilities.
The event will be Chaired by David Strang, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Keynote speakers will include:
- Members of the SOLD User group, speaking from lived experience
- James King, Head of Learning and Skills, Scottish Prison Service, on current initiatives within SPS
- Caitlin Gormley, Scottish Centre for Criminal Justice Research, on the psychological impacts on people with learning disabilities of incarceration
- Gary Docherty, Consultant LD Nurse and co-founder of the SOLD Network, on the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities in prison and on CPOs, and effective models of support
- Hugh Asher, Keyring, on peer mentoring programmes
Others will be announced in due course. We hope the presentations will stimulate discussion and are keen to hear the views of as many professionals as possible with expertise, experience and an interest in this very complex area.
A sample of some taster questions we might be considering on the day:
- How do we avoid a situation where the only people serving short-term prison sentences are people with learning disabilities and autism who breached their CPO because they didn’t get support?
- How do we break the cycle of reoffending of people with learning disabilities and autism who find prison easier to cope with than the world outside?
- Is it acceptable to keep someone with a learning disability or autism in prison for longer in order to ensure the support they need to avoid reoffending can be put in place?
- How do we eliminate the barriers between inside and outside?
The event is free to attend. To book a place, please drop me an email:
The most recent SOLD event was held on Wednesday 11th October at Norton Park Conference Centre in Edinburgh. The title was:
‘Reducing the use of secure forensic detention and improving support for vulnerable people in the community’
To view the programme for the above event click here – Programme
To view the discussion paper for the above event click here – Discussion Paper
This event was organised jointly by SOLD and the CJVSF (Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum)
The purpose of the event was to look at the use of forensic detention and the scope for reducing the number of people detained, collaborative approaches that are helping community-based support for convicted people who have learning disabilities and/or mental health issues, and some of the challenges facing vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.
The event was Chaired by Graham Forbes, Chair of the Mental Welfare Commission, and included input from:
- Fergus Douds, Consultant Psychiatrist, State Hospital who talked about the scope for reducing the number of people in forensic detention and the barriers to achieving that.
- Simon Pearce-Madge, Managing Director, Thera who talked about the challenges of supporting people with forensic needs in the community and the need for a fully collaborative approach.
There were 4 workshops:
- The SOLD user group discussed their own experiences of forensic detention and their thoughts on what is good community-based support that works for them
- Frances Simpson, CEO, Support in Mind discussed their work around distress, place of safety and Distress Brief Interventions (DBI), and explored other initiatives for avoiding custody for people in crisis
- Richard Thomson, Community Justice Co-ordinator in Clacks discussed the contributions the new community justice partnerships can make to reducing offending
- The Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice discussed the lessons that can be learnt from preventive work with young offenders and how that learning might help improve outcomes for vulnerable people more generally.
A findings report and videos of the keynote presentations will be available in due course.
The Supporting Offenders with Learning Disabilities Network (SOLD) is led by a partnership between People First Scotland and the Association for Real Change (ARC) Scotland. Support and guidance for our work comes from a User group of people with learning disabilities who have experience of the criminal justice system, and an Advisory group of professionals and a representative from the User group.
There are over 330 members of the SOLD network from a broad range of backgrounds including: Voluntary Sector Providers, Police Scotland, NHS, Social Work, academic institutions, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Scottish Government and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
If you have a learning disability and experience of the criminal justice system, and you would like to join our user group, please email: Kenny.firstname.lastname@example.org
Reduce offending and improve support for offenders with learning disabilities in Scotland.
The beneficiaries of our work also include people who have other significant communication difficulties, such as acquired brain injury, autism and foetal alcohol syndrome.