On 23 January 2020 in the Long Gallery at Stormont, Dr Berni Kelly from QUB presented at the launch of the findings from the Just US collaborative research project which aimed to identify and reduce barriers to accessing justice and support for victims of sexual violence and abuse who have a learning disability. The project was led by Positive Futures in collaboration with Compass Advocacy Network, Informing Choices NI (formerly FPA), Nexus NI, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and QUB.
The project followed a co-production model whereby four advocates with a learning disability co-led and delivered the project. Following a literature review by QUB, a consultation was completed with 26 people with a learning disability to evaluate their awareness of criminal justice processes and support services. In addition, 18 police and public prosecution service professionals were consulted on their experience of working with people with a learning disability. The project also provided a pilot training programme on learning disability for the PSNI and PPS.
Outputs from the project include: a screening tool to support first response officers and call handlers to identify if a victim (or suspect) has a learning disability; a Just US card for people with a learning disability to share their communication preferences with criminal justice professionals; and an accessible guide and short animated video summary on the criminal justice system for people with learning disabilities.
A pilot counselling programme for victims of sexual violence and abuse who have a learning disability was simultaneously delivered by Nexus with and evaluated by QUB. The findings of this evaluation were largely positive highlighting the benefits of inclusive counselling programmes for people with learning disabilities and the barriers to accessing therapeutic support
For more information about this project visit justusni.org
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