KeyRing and the Criminal Justice System

KeyRing and the Criminal Justice System

KeyRing is working with the Criminal Justice System to help offenders with a learning disability, autism or both.

KeyRing has been involved in work in the Criminal Justice System for many years. We have worked directly with the Prison Reform Trust, Bemix (formerly The Skillnet Group), the Department of Health and NHS England on learning disability projects relating to offenders with learning disabilities, autism or both. KeyRing has also delivered several programmes of awareness training for different criminal justice professionals.

Finding the right package of support for someone with a learning disability, autism or both can be the key to turning their life around. This is also true for people with a learning disability, autism or both who find themselves in the criminal justice system.

The Working for Justice group helps the criminal justice system to support people with learning disabilities, autism or both. The group won the National Learning Disabilities Award (2014) for their work making the system more accessible.

Find Out More about the Working for Justice Group

Find Out More about the Easy Read Examples

Find Out More about about previous projects

Find useful further resources

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A group of people sat at tables working

Danny's Story

Smiling man in blue tank top

Danny was sent to prison originally for not paying a fine. This led him into a criminal lifestyle, in which he served a total of 22 years and 9 months in prison for various offences. Danny struggles to read or write. Once stuck in the cycle of crime, unsupported, Danny continued to struggle with communication and was unable to understand the demands involved in setting himself up in the community.

39 years after his first offence, Danny joined his local KeyRing Living Support Network. The support this group offered him has allowed him to create a life for himself and he has not offended since joining this Network 8 years ago. The support given amounts to just a couple of hours a week, helping with paperwork, maintaining a tenancy and being involved in the community.

Hear Danny talk about his experiences...

Access Magazine, a lifestyle magazine focused on learning and physical disabilities, published an article concerning the treatment of people with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system. The article includes a case study from a KeyRing and Working for Justice group Member who, through no fault of his own, experienced life on the wrong side of the law.

cThese eye opening stories cause us to take action, to push for equality and fair treatment for everybody in all aspects of society, including those within the criminal justice system.

To read Justice For All? - Learning Disabilities and The Law (April 2014) click here.

The T2A Project

KeyRing is currently working on a project funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. It is a part of their ‘Transition to Adulthood’ (or T2A) programme that looks to develop ways to make criminal justice interventions with young adults as effective as possible.

The Transition to Adulthood programme currently has very little information about the experiences and needs of young people with Learning Disabilities or Autism in the Criminal Justice System so we want to provide this input in their programme. We would like to speak to you about your experiences of being in the Criminal Justice System and about making the transition from youth services to adult services in the criminal justice system and the social care system.

You do not need to have a diagnosis of a learning disability or autism, you just need to feel that you experience difficulties such as communicating or processing information that have an effect on your ability to cope with, understand and navigate the criminal justice system.

If you are interested, the first thing that we will do is to arrange to have a brief chat by telephone or Zoom about your involvement in the Criminal Justice System. This will look at whether you have been in Police Custody, to Court, to a Young Offenders Institution, to Prison, under the Youth Offending Team, or had to see a Probation Officer for example.

This will give us an idea of the things that you might like to talk about and allow us to tell you more about our project.

If you are still interested in taking part, we will arrange to have another chat where you can tell us more of your story. This will look in more depth at your experiences at different points in the Criminal Justice System, what you think should have been done differently and what you think would help other young people if they are in the same position. We will not ask you to talk in depth about the offence that you were accused of unless you want to and you think that it is relevant to what happened.

If you want to take part in further parts of the project we will be arranging some bigger focus groups. These might be via Zoom in the near future, but we hope that by the end of the project in February 2022 (next year) that we will have been able to meet at least once or twice face-to-face. These groups will explore wider issues for young people with a learning disability or autism in the criminal justice system. You can just take part in the one-to-one discussions and decide later if you want to join the bigger group, you do not have to commit to anything now.

For more information or to take part contact Hugh Asher on 07908 101 861 or at


For more information on any of the criminal justice work please email

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