Understanding and treating offenders with learning disabilities: a review of recent developments

John L. Taylor, William Lindsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


De-institutionalisation and resettlement have had a significant impact on offenders with learning disabilities (LD) who are now more visible in the wider community than before. Perhaps because of the challenges presented by people who were previously contained in institutions, there has been a growth of interest in their characteristics, the services and clinical interventions required to support them. This narrative review presents and discusses recent developments concerning offenders with LD. It looks at the historical association between crime and low intelligence, and then examines the evidence concerning the prevalence of offending by people with LD and recidivism rates. Recent research concerning service pathways for this population is summarised and progress in the development of actuarial, dynamic and clinical assessments of the future risk of offending is outlined. The second half of the paper focuses on a review of the evidence for and recent developments in the treatment of offending behaviour (anger/aggression, sexual offending and fire-setting), utilising broadly cognitive behaviourally-based approaches. Finally, future directions for research and practice innovation are proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2010


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