Police and the Justice System
People with FASD have a much higher chance of being involved in criminal activity, being arrested and imprisoned. Australian statistics indicate that people in prison have much higher rates of FASD than that seen in the general population.
People living with FASD will often have severe cognitive and social deficits. Some of the behavioural characteristics of FASD include an inability to understand consequences and assess risk and poor memory which can sometimes put those with FASD in trouble with the law. Related offences may include theft, lying about an incident, not following laws and rules and generally being disruptive.
Recognising the family backgrounds of those living with FASD is also important. Many may have come from a home situation with child abuse, neglect, excessive alcohol consumption or early life trauma. On the flip side, those with FASD may also represent more affluent families where the impacts of drinking through pregnancy was not understood.
Many justice professionals suggest that they are uncertain about defining and identifying those with FASD and its relevance to criminal interactions and proceedings.
The following resources may be of assistance to Police and Justice Services in better understanding FASD:
Telethon Kids Institute resources for Justice professionals
View the FASD and Justice resources including:
A variety of research projects are in progress or have been conducted in the justice system:
What impact does FASD have on the juvenile justice system?
Developed by the Australian Centre for Child Protection, this Presentation includes information and statistics to support those working in the Justice system.
Aboriginal Trauma, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the juvenile justice system: a volatile cocktail
This resource (PDF 692kb) is produced by the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, New South Wales Bar Association and The Law Society of New South Wales and provides links and resources relating to:
Speech held at NSW Bar Association on the 6th October 2016 (Time 1:16:48)