On Thursday 13 December 2018 we hosted our conference: ‘Rough Justice? How is the justice system serving autistic people?’; held at the spectacular Church House Conference Centre, Westminster.

We were delighted to welcome friends and colleagues from all over the world representing all areas of justice and autism, including several autistic delegates.

The conference was opened by the Baroness Browning with a plea for more understanding of the specific circumstances of autistic people at all points of the justice system.

We then heard from a range of expert speakers with experience and expertise across the justice system including the law, law enforcement, charity, health, academia, and from autistic people and their families. The Chair, Richard Mills highlighted how despite increased awareness of autism, autistic people were over-represented in the justice system as victims of crime, witnesses and suspects and how the system was often failing them. Awareness alone is not enough but reasonable adjustment has been shown to make a difference. He emphasised the importance of language and narrative when discussing this sensitive topic to draw attention to the need for more effective action, whilst avoiding stigmatising autistic people.

Our speakers have kindly agreed to share their presentations, and these are available to read and to download.

Dr Katie Maras: Eliciting best evidence: How can the justice system support autistic witnesses?

Dr Katie Maras is a Lecturer in Psychology and Deputy Director for the Centre for Applied Autism Research at the University of Bath. Her work takes a theoretically-informed applied approach to understanding how the specific memory and social communication difficulties of autistic adults affect their interactions in ‘high stakes’ contexts, and what adaptations can be made to support them.

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Dr Juli Crocombe: At Her Majesty’s Pleasure – improving outcomes for autistic offenders with an indeterminate sentence

As a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry of over 15 years standing, Juli has extensive knowledge and experience of autism and has worked intensively with people with autism who present with complex mental health needs and/or offending behaviour, including those with an intellectual disability and those with normal or high cognitive ability.

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Yvette Bates: HMP Dovegate

Yvette Bates is a HCPC Registered and Chartered Senior Forensic Psychologist and has worked within Forensic Services for 17 years. Yvette is currently the Autism Lead at HMP Dovegate, a category B male prison based in Staffordshire.

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