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Research shows Autistic people are more likely to come into contact with law enforcement or other justice professionals, compared to non-Autistic people. Autistic individuals and their families are also more likely to experience negative, and potentially traumatising encounters with the criminal justice system.

Despite the growing prevalence and awareness of autism, criminal justice systems in many countries do not adequately meet the needs of autistic people and their families.

How can interactions between Autistic individuals and the criminal justice system be improved?

What policy and practice changes should be made to better support Autistic people who come into contact with the criminal justice system?

The research

The Global Autism and Criminal Justice Consortium is an international group of autism and justice system experts – including ARCAP's National Manager, Vicki Gibbs and Research Officer, Dr Abigail Love – that has developed a policy brief aimed at improving interactions between Autistic people and the criminal justice system. ARCAP’s involvement recognises its high calibre of research that led to the development of Australia's first autism training module for police.

International CJS survey design

What we learnt

International CJS survey respondents

Read full policy brief.

Further analyses of the content are underway.

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International CJS study summary

Making a difference

Spanning ten countries across four continents, this is the largest research study to explore Autistic people’s interactions with the criminal justice system. Findings from a comprehensive review of the scientific literature formed the basis of a policy brief aimed at supporting Autistic people who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

The policy brief may be used by agencies involved in the criminal justice system such as police, corrections and courts as a framework for making adaptations for Autistic people. The brief also identifies gaps in the research and therefore guides further investigations in this area.

Analysis of the data from the Global Criminal Justice Survey will Identify both common and unique themes across contexts, stakeholders and nations which will facilitate the development of comprehensive policy recommendations, practical strategies and future research directions.

Research team

The international team comprises many members from ten countries including:

Dr Lindsay Shea, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University (Co-lead researcher)

Cpl. John Burke, Philadelphia Police Department Training and Education Services Bureau

Vicki Gibbs, ARCAP

Dr Abigail Love, ARCAP






This project was supported by funding from the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR). However, that funding does not in any way constitute an endorsement of the contents of this webpage, which have not been reviewed or approved by INSAR prior to publication.