Frequency and characteristics of police involvement in potentially criminal behaviour in disability services


Addicott, Fiona; Thomas, Stuart D. M.; Ogloff, James R. P.; Daffern, Michael D.


Some reluctance exists among disability staff to report to police potentially criminal behaviour by people with intellectual disabilities. Both the nature and frequency of these behaviours and decision-making processes of staff concerning police involvement remain poorly understood. This study sought to explore potentially criminal behaviour by people living in disability services and the frequency of police involvement. A broad spectrum of potentially criminal behaviours was reported, most frequently involving acts of physical aggression. Police were contacted in 101/370 (27%) of the incidents reported; two-thirds involved acts where there was an identifiable victim; incidents reported to police were most likely to occur outside the disability service. A more detailed understanding of disability staff decision-making as it relates to initiating contact with the police, and the immediate and long-term issues and benefits concerning police contact and intervention, is required so as to more effectively prevent and manage potentially criminal behaviour.

Publication year


Publication type

Journal article


Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Vol. 5, no. 1 (2018), pp. 47-57




Informa UK Limited


Copyright © 2017 Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability.