Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

Topics: Disability, Mental disorder, Mental retardation Pages: 9 (3032 words) Published: May 30, 2012
STUDENT ID: 21162896

The aim of this essay is primarily to identify and discuss the reasons for and factors contributing to the vulnerability of adults with learning disabilities who come in contact with the criminal justice system. This essay will offer the rational for selecting this particular group and critically discuss their vulnerability. This essay will also discuss the factors that relate to their vulnerability as well as the impact this has on their overall health and wellbeing. This will be followed by discussions of the support available from the multi-disciplinary/multi-agency teams with specific emphasis on the role of the social worker, relating these to relevant safeguarding policies and legislation. The essay will conclude by summarising the key issues discussed within the content. There generally appears to be a lack of consensus between theorists and academics as to what constitutes ‘Vulnerability’. The Chamber’s Dictionary (1990) cited by Hoff master (2006) defines Vulnerability as the “Individual’s propensity to experience harm”. “Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or injured”; “open to successful attack or “Capable of being persuaded or tempted”. (Kottow, M 2002) on the other hand, makes a distinction between ‘Vulnerability’, as the “universal human condition of being intact but fragile”, and ‘Susceptibility’, “the condition of being biologically weak or diseased with an increased predisposition towards additional harm”. He goes on to say that “vulnerability falls under the principle of justice, which affords equal protection to all members of society”. (Kottow, M. 2002). (Rogers, A.1997) definition appears to be more relevant to Social workers as she states that “to determine vulnerability, nurses have to look to such factors as age, gender, race, ethnicity, social support, education, income and life changes”. She goes on to say that “developing tools to measure vulnerability would improve prediction and prevention of health problems and subsequently nurses could therefore provide more holistic and comprehensive care with greater awareness of the sources of vulnerability” (Rogers, A. 1997). The vulnerable group I have decided to use is Adults with learning disabilities that come in contact with the criminal justice system. It is generally accepted that all adults with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system are vulnerable by virtue of their intellectual disabilities and developmental immaturity (Jacobson 2008). The prevalence of people with learning disabilities in the criminal justice system range from 1% to 10% of the UK population (DoH 1998), research has also shown that 6% of people with LD were ‘supervised by probation services on community orders’ (Mason & Murphy 2002); while 7% of people in prison have an IQ below 70 and a further 255 an IQ between 70 and 79 (Mottram 2007), there however appears to be huge discrepancies in identifying and protecting the ‘vulnerability’ of adults with learning disabilities, Locuks (2007) review paper for the Prison Reform Trust demonstrates for the first time “the vast hidden problem of high numbers of adults with learning difficulties and learning disabilities trapped within the criminal justice system”. She emphasises that this group of offenders are at greater risk of re-offending because of unidentified needs and consequent lack of support and services, she laments that they are also unlikely to benefit from “conventional programmes designed to address offending behaviour and are predominantly targeted by other prisoners when in custody”. She summarizes by saying that adult prisoners with learning disabilities “present numerous difficulties for the staff who work with them, especially when these staff often...
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