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The identification and management of ADHD offenders within the criminal justice system: a consensus statement from the UK Adult ADHD Network and criminal justice agencies

Susan J Young1*, Marios Adamou2, Blanca Bolea3, Gisli Gudjonsson1, Ulrich Müller4, Mark Pitts5, Johannes Thome6 and Philip Asherson1

Author Affiliations

1 King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK

2 South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Manygates Clinic, Belle Isle Healthpark, Portobello Road, Wakefield, WF1 5PN, UK

3 Psychopharmacology Unit, Dorothy Hodgkin Building, Whitson Street, Bristol, BS1 3NY, UK

4 Department of Psychiatry, Box 189, Level E4, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

5 Adult ADHD Service, South London & Maudsley Trust, Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, SE5 8AZ, UK

6 Institute of Life Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2011, 11:32  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-11-32

Published: 18 February 2011


The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) was founded by a group of mental health specialists who have experience delivering clinical services for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) within the National Health Service (NHS). UKAAN aims to support mental health professionals in the development of services for adults with ADHD by the promotion of assessment and treatment protocols. One method of achieving these aims has been to sponsor conferences and workshops on adult ADHD.

This consensus statement is the result of a Forensic Meeting held in November 2009, attended by senior representatives of the Department of Health (DoH), Forensic Mental Health, Prison, Probation, Courts and Metropolitan Police services. The objectives of the meeting were to discuss ways of raising awareness about adult ADHD, and its recognition, assessment, treatment and management within these respective services. Whilst the document draws on the UK experience, with some adaptations it can be used as a template for similar local actions in other countries.

It was concluded that bringing together experts in adult ADHD and the Criminal Justice System (CJS) will be vital to raising awareness of the needs of ADHD offenders at every stage of the offender pathway. Joint working and commissioning within the CJS is needed to improve awareness and understanding of ADHD offenders to ensure that individuals are directed to appropriate care and rehabilitation. General Practitioners (GPs), whilst ideally placed for early intervention, should not be relied upon to provide this service as vulnerable offenders often have difficulty accessing primary care services. Moreover once this hurdle has been overcome and ADHD in offenders has been identified, a second challenge will be to provide treatment and ensure continuity of care. Future research must focus on proof of principle studies to demonstrate that identification and treatment confers health gain, safeguards individual's rights, improves engagement in offender rehabilitation programmes, reduces institutional behavioural disturbance and, ultimately, leads to crime reduction. In time this will provide better justice for both offenders and society.