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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that includes lack of attention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

What this means
ADHD at the police station
ADHD at court
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What this means

Children (and adults) with ADHD have a disorder that makes them inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. Many people with ADHD also have learning difficulties and additional problems such as sleep disorders.

Children with ADHD:

  • find it harder to pay attention and make careless mistakes
  • have difficulty following instructions, organising and finishing tasks
  • seem not to listen when being spoken to
  • be easily distracted
  • fidget and find it difficult to sit still
  • run or climb about in inappropriate situations
  • talk excessively
  • give answers before questions have been completed
  • interrupt and find it hard to wait their turn

ADHD at the police station

It is important for the police to know if a child has ADHD. This may affect how the police treat a child, how the police view the child’s behaviour and whether the child gets a criminal record. Modifications (changes) can be made to how the police conduct a police interview. This can make it easier for a child with ADHD to answer questions and give their best evidence. An intermediary can be used to help with communication and a child must have an appropriate adult (see effective participation).

If a child has ADHD and they are a witness or a victim, it is important to tell the police.

ADHD at court

If a child has ADHD, modifications (changes) can help a child with ADHD to be able to effectively participate in court. For example,

  • regular breaks for movement and medication
  • opportunity to doodle, therapy cushion, use of a stress ball
  • explaining that fidgeting is not a sign of disrespect.

If the child is a defendant or witness, special measures can also be used. For example, use of an intermediary when preparing for giving evidence, to explain what is happening in court and to help with communication when giving evidence1 or other aids to communication.2 It is important a child can effectively participate in the court process.


  1. Section 29 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  2. Section 30 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)