Iain Dickie Shirley Reveley Austin Dorrity


Individuals with a diagnosis of autism are seven times more likely to be represented in criminal justice statistics compared to people without this diagnosis (Debbaunt, 2004). This signals the need for further investigation into the practices of professionals working in these areas; in particular, the extent of their awareness and understanding of autism. This paper reports on a qualitative study undertaken with 30 people working in probation, a community rehabilitation company, police, and liaison and diversion services in a county in the North of England. Interviews were conducted between July and September 2017.  While a number of criminal justice professionals possessed some experience of autism in their personal or professional practice, several professionals struggled to accurately identify what autism is, and how it could impact on an individual’s communication style; which could represent a barrier to effective communication between providers and service users. These results add to the body of literature on the subject of criminal justice services and alleged offenders who are on the autism spectrum and aims to raise awareness and promote discussion on this important subject.