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Supporting young people with neurodevelopmental impairment

This research by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies highlights the  high proportion of children in the criminal justice system with brain injuries and impairments. The report calls for health, education and family based interventions to prevent the unecessary criminalisation of children with neurodevelopmental impairment.



The findings of the report are that serious head injuries prior to imprisonment are four times as common among young people in custody as among young people in the general population.

Young people with brain injuries and impairments can behave in a confrontational or anti-social manner, putting them at risk of being criminalised for behaviours related to their underlying medical condition.

In place of criminalising young people with brain injuries and impairments, the report recommends early and sustained interventions, led by health and education practitioners, to support young people whose medical conditions can be manifested in disruptive and confrontational behaviour, along with their families.

Deborah Fortescue, Head of Foundation, The Disabilities Trust, said

“The evidence is clear, there are too many young people in the criminal justice system who have neurodevelopmental disorders, which are often unrecognised and subsequently undiagnosed.  We need to raise awareness, start screening for brain injury and educate people on the consequences of such disorders to enable them to support and divert people away from the criminal justice system wherever possible.  The earlier in the system this can happen the better.’”


Supporting young people with neurodevelopmental impairment, Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan & Dr Nathan Hughes, Dec 2015