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Experiences of Crime and Criminal Justice Among People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Project Description


To examine the lived experience of people with ASD who experience crime and contact with the criminal justice system.


1. To explore the extent and nature of crime and victimisation experienced by people with ASD;
2. To examine understandings and experience of, and attitudes toward, the criminal justice system among people with ASD;
3. To identify the needs of people with ASD who experience crime and victimisation.
4. To use the findings to help shape policy and best practice for criminal justice professionals, and to inform further research in this area. This may include the development of an information hub and/or materials for those working in the criminal justice system.

Methodological Approach

This study will combine survey and photovoice methodologies. It is envisaged that the programme of research will involve four principal stages:

1. Consultation and development of survey tools culminating in a pilot study
This study builds upon an established methodology and the research experiences of the supervisory team. Quantitative data tools will be developed through consultation and piloting. As it is critical that the needs of people with ASD are incorporated into the project, it is expected that the doctoral student will undertake preparatory work involving consultation events with key stakeholders.

2. Distribution of the survey online and through completion of paper copies, which will be completed anonymously
Research participants will be self-selecting respondents. We will generate a research sample of people with ASD by engaging with a range of providers – support services, charities, online communities and media – and through the promotion of this research across social media. This approach has been highly successful in generating respondents for previous HKC studies.

3. Case studies
Photovoice – a combination of photography and semi-structured interviews – will be employed as a creative methodological tool through which to gain insight into individuals’ lived experiences. Photovoice offers a expressive means through which to develop case studies that will enable us to gain a holistic view of the experiences, feelings, perceptions and impacts of crime and criminal justice through the perspectives of people with ASD. This is a novel approach through which to generate deep idiographic accounts of individuals’ experiences of crime and criminal justice. It is envisaged that photovoice will result in rich qualitative data that will complement and augment data derived through the survey method, in turn, enhancing our understanding of the lived experience of crime and criminal justice among people with ASD.

4. Analysis and dissemination
In order to maximise impact at local and national levels, results will be disseminated to policy makers, practitioners and project participants. Particular efforts will be made to reach the Autistic community and the doctoral student will be encouraged to devise appropriate and relevant dissemination activities.

Funding Notes

DTA3/COFUND participants will be employed for 36 months with a minimum salary of (approximately) £20,989 per annum. Tuition fees will waived for DTA3/COFUND participants who will also be able to access an annual DTA elective bursary to enable attendance at DTA training events and interact with colleagues across the Doctoral Training Alliance(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801604.

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