Camden charity receives grant to support people with learning disabilities in the criminal justice system

A charity has been awarded over £95,000 to support people with learning disabilities and autism involved in the criminal justice system.

The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, has given Respond £95,100 to help 25 offenders and their families each year.

The charity aims to improve the mental health of people with learning disabilities and autism involved in the criminal justice system or who are likely to come into contact with it, thereby reducing offending and re-offending.

Respond is the leading provider of psychotherapy and support for offenders with learning disabilities and autism.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust committee, said:

“Respond is the only voluntary organisation in London offering forensic services for people with learning disabilities and autism.

“Its focus on improving mental health will have a lasting effect on the offenders, giving them a support system that was very much needed.

“City Bridge Trust is committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”

Respond believes the criminal justice system cannot meet the needs of its population with learning disabilities and autism. Research by the Prison Reform Trust (2008) found that a significant proportion of prisoners with learning disabilities are excluded from offending behaviour programme, interventions that are needed to secure release.

Richard Curen, Deputy Director and Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist at Respond, said:

“The context of the work of Respond’s forensic service is that 20–30% of offenders have a learning disability or difficulty that is sufficient to hamper their ability to cope with the complexities of the criminal justice system. It is clear that a significant number of offenders have learning disabilities and their needs frequently go unrecognised within the criminal justice system or within health and social care.

“This is why Respond’s work is crucial as offenders with learning disabilities experience personal, systematic and routine discrimination at all points of the criminal justice system. ’

City Bridge Trust is London’s largest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital. The Trust has awarded around 7,600 totalling over £360 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the Corporation aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

Case study: Barry’s story:

Barry was initially referred to Respond for psychotherapy at aged 38. He had a mild learning disability and, due to his cerebral palsy, had poor communication skills and found it difficult to maintain in depth conversations with people.

At the start of the treatment Barry talked about his early life and it became obvious that he had significant traumatic memories.

By the end of the two years of treatment Barry had stopped his aggressive behaviour towards other people and towards himself. The support staff benefitted hugely from the input from the Respond team as they were able to help support Barry to integrate some of his improved and developing ways of relating to others and to himself.

Media Enquiries

Kristina Drake

Media Officer, City of London Corporation

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