Perceptions of sex offenders with intellectual disability: A comparison of forensic staff and the general public [2018]

Existing literature suggests that individuals with intellectual disability are not always held accountable for their actions and forensic staff are unlikely to report their sexually harmful behaviour.

This research explores how categorization of an offender as having intellectual disability and the framing of an offence as planned or opportunistic, impacts upon ratings of risk, blame and intent by forensic staff and the general public. The impact of pre‐existing attitudes towards sex offenders upon these ratings was also considered.

Differences are identified between participants’ ratings when the offender is categorized as having an intellectual disability. More positive attitudes are associated with lower ratings of several factors.

Individuals with overly positive attitudes towards sex offenders could underestimate the risk posed by sex offenders with intellectual disability. These results are important to consider alongside the NHS Transforming Care Agenda.

Jennifer Steans Simon Duff

Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 15 May 2018