Young people with cognitive disabilities and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system: service provider perspectives on policing [2018]

Young people with cognitive disabilities (YPWCD) are overrepresented as offenders in the criminal justice system. However, most existing research on this topic examines overrepresentation in courts and corrections rather than at the police gatekeeping stage of the criminal justice process. Furthermore, while the views of other groups have been documented, the perspectives of service providers – who often bear witness to YPWCD’s interactions with police – have yet to be examined. This research addresses this gap by analysing qualitative interviews with service providers from Queensland, Australia, using the three most common theoretical explanations for the overrepresentation of PWCD (the susceptibility, differential treatment and psychosocial disadvantage theses) as an analytic framework. A number of implications emerged from the study. There is a need to take a critical and intersectional lens to YPWCD’s experiences, as well as to equip police to work with YPWCD to de-escalate interactions with this group.

Kelly Richards & Kathy Ellem
Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Volume 20, 2019 – Issue 2