Criminal Justice

PSNI_crest.jpgResearch demonstrates that individuals with Autism are no more likely to commit crime than anyone else, but some behaviours and characteristics associated with ASD may cause them to become involved with the Criminal Justice System. An understanding of the complexities of Autism is therefore essential to understand how individuals with ASD can be misunderstood and how some behaviour can be misinterpreted by society.

We are engaging with the Criminal Justice System to raise awareness of Autism amongst a range of agencies. We aim to provide practical guidance for Criminal Justice Professionals to discuss best practice. It is vital that professionals know how to recognise and interact appropriately with individuals with Autism.

To date over 1100 staff across Northern Ireland have completed tailored Autism training and have increased their understanding of the issues facing individuals with Autism. Many have also achieved our AQA Level 1 accreditation as part of this course.  The course evaluations have been extremely positive, giving the course a 92.3% approval rating. Evaluations also showed that personnel felt they had a better understanding of Autism and would implement strategies within their work as a result of attending the training.

The example below highlights the effectiveness and vital importance of this staff training. A PSNI officer who had attended a call out regarding an individual with Autism soon after he had received training contacted us:

‘I found the training had really helped me to understand how ___ was feeling and it gave me the understanding to communicate with him effectively. (the caller)…commented to us that she was impressed and grateful that we had some understanding of Autism and our handling of the incident…For me, every officer would benefit from this training’.

As part of the training, staff are also made aware of the Autism Alert Card Scheme, which will enable officers to recognise that an individual has Autism and adjust their responses appropriately to help the individual with Autism.

To find out more about this training, please contact our Training Department on 02890 401729 (Option 4) or email christine@autismni.org.