University of Limerick
Gulati_2022_Enhanced.pdf (11.43 MB)

Enhancing intellectual disabilities awareness in Irish law enforcement interactions

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posted on 2023-02-03, 15:57 authored by Gautam GulatiGautam Gulati

Emerging research has highlighted higher rates of people with intellectual disabilities in police custody and prisons as compared to general population prevalence across multiple jurisdictions. This is a constituency that are vulnerable in criminal justice settings. Against a background of Ireland’s ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), this thesis examines the variety of ways in which accused persons with intellectual disabilities face barriers in accessing justice equally at the policing interface: including non-recognition of disability, psychological vulnerabilities, a lack of accessible information and deficiencies in service provision. It further identifies ways to address lacunae, generating recommendations for policymakers in strengthening safeguards and allowing progress in respect of Ireland’s human rights obligations.

In addition to international literature reviews and analysis of Irish data setting out the societal context, this thesis contributes new knowledge and progresses existing knowledge in four areas. First, the elicitation and thematic analysis of stakeholder viewpoints in respect of barriers to equal access to justice for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland – this is the largest such study of its kind in Ireland and will usefully inform governmental policy and law reform in this area post UNCRPD ratification. Second, the systematic development of a UNCRPD-informed model of intellectual disability awareness training for law enforcement officers with pilot empirical evaluation. This can potentially be generalised to the other State Parties that have ratified the Convention. Third, the systematic development of an Easy-to-Read Notice of Rights developed through focus group methodology with multidisciplinary and advocate consensus including people with a disability. Whilst this output is arguably jurisdiction-specific, a methodology template is provided for other countries to develop this important document. Fourth, the thesis provides a critical appraisal of current legal and clinical scenario in respect of the policing interface for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland. In that context, this thesis both reviews and recommends, based on existing laws, policies, and practices, approaches to advancing specific safeguards.



  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Colum P. Dunne

Second supervisor

Alan Cusack

Third supervisor

Shane Kilcommins

Department or School

  • School of Medicine
  • Law

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