Equal and Fair Project
The Equal and Fair Project was funded by a grant from Comic Relief and ran from February 2015 to March 2018. During this time, the Project Manager, Hugh Asher, and members of the Working for Justice Group delivered a one-day training course on working with people with Learning Disabilities and Autism in the Criminal Justice System 113 times to a total of 1,641 front line workers. These included: Prison, Police and Probation staff; Appropriate Adults; Custody Visitors; Liaison and Diversion workers; Magistrates and members of the Parole Board.
The awareness training delivered was divided into three modules:
Module 1 looked at:
- What is a Learning Disability and what is a Learning Difficulty?
- Autistic Spectrum Conditions
- Problems that people might have in the criminal justice system if they have a learning disability, difficulty or autism
- How to recognise and support people who may have a learning disability, difficulty or autism
Module 2 looked at:
- General communication problems that people can experience
- How to communicate better with people who might experience communication problems
Module 2 was designed to help people working in the criminal justice system to communicate better with a wider range of people than just people with learning disabilities and difficulties. This should have a positive impact, as good communication can lead to less challenging behaviours and ultimately reduced reoffending.
Module 3 looked at specific strategies for CJS staff related to their area of work, and also problems and barriers for staff to be aware of. It also explored how staff can change the way they work to ensure that people who have a learning disability, learning difficulty or autism are treated fairly and receive equal support.
Summary of Equal and Fair Project Training Course Feedback
- 96.7% of participants felt the course was everything they hoped
- 59.8% felt very confident after the training about what a learning disability involves and
- 36.6% felt slightly more confident about what a learning disability involves
- 83.6% found the communication tips, skills and strategies mentioned on the course very useful and relevant and practical to their role
The Independent Evaluation of the project can be found here.
The involvement of people the co-trainers who had lived experience was reported to be a very important aspect of the course.
According to the feedback reviewed, the training courses were delivered to a very high standard, very educational, in depth, well presented and extremely informative. The courses were seen as thought provoking and reflective.
Training the Criminal Justice System
KeyRing helps raise awareness of Learning Disabilities and Autism within the Criminal Justice System.
Before undertaking the above mentioned Equal & Fair project, KeyRing was already well established as a provider of awareness training for different areas of the criminal justice system.
In 2007, KeyRing and the Skillnet Group (now Bemix) were commissioned by the Department of Health to co-design a learning disability awareness training package. This was then delivered to over 600 staff from all prisons in England and Wales. The people trained worked in a range of roles. The Disability Liaison Officer was trained from each prison as well as someone from Healthcare and someone from Induction or Reception.
The feedback on the training was very positive. Many said how much having a co-trainer with learning disabilities improved the training. Staff said they liked the simple but effective adjustments that were suggested, such as changing communal clocks to digital to help people know the time, and they recognised that these could make a significant difference for someone with a learning disability in prison. Please contact Neisha Betts (Neisha.Betts@Keyring.org) for a copy of the training evaluation report.
A DVD was also created by the Skillnet Group and the Working for Justice group for use in awareness training. It includes interviews with people with learning disabilities who talk about their experience and views of being in the Criminal Justice System as an offender with learning disabilities.
Co-trainers in the project have continued to help deliver criminal justice awareness training to this day. They have worked with both KeyRing and the Prison Reform Trust, to deliver training to prisons and probation services, court and magistrate staff and others. They also regularly speak about their experiences at relevant events and have even had several engagements at the House of Lords and House of Commons.
If you would like help or training from KeyRing for your organisation please contact Neisha.Betts@KeyRing.org for more information.
Other CJS work
KeyRing has also helped related projects that are working on behalf of offenders with learning disabilities.
KeyRing is a member of the National Learning Disabled Offender Steering Group, currently hosted and Chaired by NHS England, Health and Justice department. This is made up of health and criminal justice policy leads, operational staff and also academics that all have an interest or expertise in this area. This group has been running since 2004 as a reference group for work concerning offenders with learning disabilities.
For more information on this group please contact the manager Neisha Betts (Neisha.Betts@nhs.net)
KeyRing has supported members of the Working for Justice group to get involved in other pieces of work, such as the No One Knows project and the Care not Custody project, both created by the Prison Reform Trust
KeyRing met with Jeremy Wright, previously the Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation, to help inform discussions on the issues faced by offenders with disabilities and learning disabilities. We gave lots of suggestions for how things could be improved for this group. The Minister liked the idea of more Easy Read across the Criminal Justice System and the Ministry of Justice and Equality Team are now developing more materials using all the resources and information that KeyRing sent them.
Please visit our Training page and Easy Read pages to discover all the work we have been involved in for these areas. The pages have several free resources you may find helpful.
You may also want to find out more about our service user reference group, the Working for Justice group, who work to help criminal justice organisations make changes to ensure suspects, defendants and offenders with learning disabilities are treated fairly and equally.