Purpose – The aim of this study is to understand how social barriers might result in people with specific learning difficulties coming in contact with the criminal justice system in the UK. The study seeks to apply the social model of disability to conceptualise a statistical relationship between socio‐economic status and key life events for people with specific learning difficulties (i.e. diagnosis, educational achievements, and employment). Design/methodology/approach – A cluster sample was used to obtain statistical data from a questionnaire based survey. The study collected quantitative and qualitative data on the life experiences of people with specific learning difficulties ( n =77). The paper analyses the quantitative data and discovers statistically significant relationships ( p ≤0.05) concerning socio‐economic status, specific learning difficulties and crime. Findings – Within the data findings age of diagnosis is significantly ( p ≤0.00) affected when comparing socio‐economic status with the offender and non‐offender group in the study. Furthermore, the educational achievements ( p ≤0.00) and employment/unemployment levels ( p ≤0.00) are dramatically altered by socio‐economic status specifically for offenders with specific learning difficulties. These relationships have been conceptualised using the social model of SpLD in terms of barriers to exclusion. Originality/value – To date very few studies have used the social model of disability to understand pathways into offending for people with learning difficulties. To the author's knowledge this is the first study to apply a quantitative analysis to the concept of disabling barriers and criminality.
Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 8, 2012
Keywords: Social model of specific learning difficulties; Disabling barriers; Structural analysis; Quantitative methods; Criminology and sociology; Intellectual disabilities; Learning disabilities; United Kingdom; Administration of justice