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What can social and environmental factors tell us about the risk of offending by people with intellectual disabilities?

Jessica R. Wheeler, Isabel C.H. Clare & Anthony J. Holland  
Psychology, Crime & Law; Volume 20, Issue 7, 2014, pages 635-658.

A minority of men and women with intellectual disabilities at times engage in, and are suspected, or convicted, of illegal activity. Recent policy developments in England and Wales emphasise the need to respond appropriately to putative offending risk through the provision of safe and effective community management, treatment, and support services. In line with these concerns, research has focused increasingly on testing the utility of an evolving variety of risk assessment procedures. Here, the authors set out to challenge the repertoire of a number of prominent and/or recently developed risk assessment procedures and the scope of an associated research literature, on the basis that contextual risk factors are receiving insufficient attention in relation to offending among people with intellectual disabilities. Drawing on the wider criminological literature, a novel study is reported that compares key contemporary proximal social and environmental circumstances in the lives of offenders and non-offenders with intellectual disabilities. A contextual risk score is derived, providing statistical support for increased consideration of the impact of relevant social and environmental circumstances. Increased emphasis on key contextual risk factors is recommended to strengthen community service responses to offenders with intellectual disabilities.



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