The criminal justice system


Disability and criminal justice is a difficult area with crimes under-reported.

The criminal justice system is not geared to dealing with people who have an intellectual disability. For this and other reasons, crimes against or by people with an intellectual disability may often go unreported. Police may also be reluctant to charge or prosecute offences against a person who has an intellectual disability, or perpetrated by a person with such a disability, because of concerns about the reliability of witnesses or issues to do with the person’s capacity to form criminal intent. Within some organisations there may also be an “institutional culture”, which views problems occurring within that facility as requiring resolution internally rather than by the justice system.

The issues and procedures relating to people who have an intellectual disability who become involved with the criminal justice system are discussed in Disability and criminal justice.

Also see Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service’s publication People who have an Intellectual Disability and the Criminal Justice System (

Taking instructions from clients

SeeTaking instructions from clients who have cognitive impairment” in Understanding disability and the law, and the above-mentioned publication, People who have an Intellectual Disability and the Criminal Justice System.