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Vulnerability in custody: perceptions and practices of police officers and criminal justice professionals in meeting the communication needs of offenders with learning disabilities and learning difficulties

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Information provision and communication within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) can be highly problematic for young people and adults with learning disabilities and difficulties. Paper-based communication is common, and mandated for the provision of rights and entitlements in custody, but such communication can be poorly understood, potentially leading to miscarriages of justice. This article uses the piloting of a more accessible version of the rights and entitlements notice in custody to explore the communication practices with vulnerable detained persons from the perspectives of professionals within the CJS. As a legally mandated text in a context heavily imbued with organisational power, the rights and entitlements notice in custody has sociological significance as a lens through which organisational practices, and understandings, can be examined. The stressful, fast-paced and transitional context of custody shapes communication and interaction in ways that are challenging for the detained person and also the professionals who support them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-572
JournalDisability & Society
Issue number4
Early online date26 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Parsons & Sherwood Communication needs in custody

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Disability & Society on 26.05.2016, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 788 KB, PDF document

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