Isherwood, Tom, Burns, Mick, Naylor, Mark and Read, Stephen (2007) 'Getting into trouble': A qualitative analysis of the onset of offending in the accounts of men with learning disabilities. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 18 (2). pp. 221-234. ISSN 14789949

Quantitative and epidemiological studies have identified common factors in the histories of people who offend. People with learning disabilities are over-represented among certain groups of offenders. However, there is an absence of literature that examines this phenomenon from the perspective of the individual by exploring the experience and understanding in their own narrative. This study provides an account of the lived experiences of men with learning disabilities who have offended, seeking to examine the ways in which these men made sense of their own behaviour and history. Six participants were interviewed using a semi-structured schedule. All participants were men with learning disabilities who were detained in conditions of medium or low security. The research was conducted using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged: social factors, protection, and inherent factors. Participants accounted for their experience and understanding in terms of both internal states and external contexts, and the analysis reflected this. It is essential that the development of offending is understood through both nomothetic and idiographic research paradigms. Findings such as these are useful when considering prevention and intervention. IPA was a constructive tool with which to explore these issues with men with learning disabilities.

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