Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Like Minds

20 Responses

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    AS people are more likely to ... run intro trouble with the police.

    Have you a stat somewhere to back this up?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • W K,

    This program taught me to be open-minded in an unexpected way - it showed me that Mike King wasn't a complete prat after all.

    North Island • Since Jul 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The official NZ ASD Guideline says on page 180:

    Although it is generally accepted that people with ASD and other disabilities have a higher likelihood of contact with the police, courts and criminal justice system than other people, little research on this could be found. Certainly people with disabilities have an increased risk of being victims of crimes.

    A couple of journal references are endnoted in that paragraph. You can also navigate through the Guideline and associated material on its dedicated site.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Have you a stat somewhere to back this up?

    Data on the prevalence of mental illness (and yes, as Russell says autism isn’t, but is likely to show up in any survey of offenders’ mental health) is hard enough to come by, let alone something that tries to break down the various disabilities.

    Remarkably (at least to those like myself, cynical of the US justice system on the basis that it allows people like “Sheriff Joe” to operate) America seems to be ahead of the NZ, Australia, the UK and other Western countries, offering 250 “mental health courts" to the estimated 17 percent of offenders presenting with a mental illness or disability. Hopefully as their prevalence increases, reliable data will emerge as to the nature of their particular difficulties.

    In the meantime, I would refer you (and Russell, as it might be useful for the show) to the National Longitudinal Transition Study, another US initiative. It studies a huge range of factors affecting young people. In this pdf of Chapter 6 of the second NTLS, on page 98, Table 36, you’ll find data on “Comparisons between 1990 and 2005 of the arrest rates of youth out of high school up to 4 years, by disability category”.

    The categories include “learning disability”, “speech / language impairment”, “emotional disturbance” and the like, which broadens the purely mental illness focus of the data collected to date by “mental health courts”.

    It doesn’t, alas, give data specifically correlated to persons diagnosed somewhere on the AS scale, but it’s the closest I’ve come to uncovering valid research into the connection between a range of what I’d term (for want of a better term) “thought disorders” and offending amongst youth.

    It’s about time – past time, in fact – that NZ funded research which dug this deep into the causes of the supposed “wave of youth crime” beloved of politicians and foaming “sensible” lobbyists. I fondly hope that sentiment might find it’s way into Russell’s program…

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to W K,

    This program taught me to be open-minded in an unexpected way - it showed me that Mike King wasn't a complete prat after all.

    IIRC wasn't he grappling with depression not too long ago? Maybe he also had an about-face after his pork industry exposé, and the subsequent berating from fellow talkback hosts.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    has been surprising and gratifying for everyone concerned.

    Thanks for the link; I've watched one show and will look at them all now. It's heart-warming and very nicely calibrated. I would never have seen it if you hadn't pointed it out.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to W K,

    This program taught me to be open-minded in an unexpected way – it showed me that Mike King wasn’t a complete prat after all.

    Absolutely. I think he'd readily acknowledge that there may have been times when the description was accurate, however.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    AS people are more likely to … run intro trouble with the police.

    Have you a stat somewhere to back this up?

    Sacha has provided you with a reference. Unfortunately, this area isn't well-researched, and it's complicated by poor diagnosis. But I think the Arie Smith case will eventually be seen as a pretty good example of the additional risks faced by AS people in confrontations with the police, and there are many more anecdotes.

    Particularly for young people, interacting with the police requires a high degree of social ability, one that AS people will struggle with, especially if the interaction becomes stressful. Sufficiently so that there are specific guides for AS people who come into contact with the criminal justice process. this one is a fascinating read.

    So ... yeah. It'd be great to have some better research to refer to, but this is what we have to work with.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    Thanks for the US reference. Interesting.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    In a broader sense it is also the discussion round the abuse of power that needs to be revisited again and again.
    One of the imported police was noted to say how NZ Police tolerate alot more lip than the UK cops would "back home".
    And with enablers like their union head and Minister, the uniform can get pretty inflated I'd wager.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It'd be great to have some better research to refer to

    Quite. Governments, advocates and allies have had a decade since the NZ Disability Strategy was adopted to progress its Objective 10 about research and statistics.

    However, disability is still not included as an identifying and analytical factor in any of the regular public datasets (such as the Household Labour Force Survey).

    Instead one national survey is done every 5 years after the Census, usually with a big delay in publishing results. The questions also remain far too shaped by a view of disabled people as recipients of medical and support services, rather than citizens with full and wide-ranging lives and contributions to make.

    Except for rare specialised research projects we are therefore not able to say much that's meaningful and timely about disabled people compared with others in any part of life, including justice as in this discussion.

    I have personally managed to get a disability cross-tab into a few datasets now, but not to get resources or engagement to analyse or use the results. It's rubbish, frankly, though I guess the bright side is that the current government's aversion to evidence means its woeful absence is less of a disadvantage.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom,

    (From the link provided earlier by Russell):

    For some people, it may be worth printing an autism handout...

    Before I'd read that, the idle thought had crossed my mind that perhaps people on the autism spectrum may benefit from some sort of "medic alert bracelet", but that made me uneasy round issues of attaching labels etc.

    But I wonder if it wouldn't be possible to have (optionally, so they could choose not to) an annotation on one's drivers licence? After all, I'm obliged to have noted on mine that I'm a danger to other road users without my glasses on and most sensible people* understand that a person with AS is as blameworthy for their condition as I am for mine.

    Or would that, too, be considered overly intrusive into the person's privacy? Personally I'd rather see a bit of privacy** traded for an appropriate and non-aggressive response from police, but that's just my perspective.

    * And one would hope cops would receive some training so they were sensible about this, at least.

    ** The persons to whom you'd show your licence are few in number, and generally in some official capacity.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    Now, that is one smart idea!
    I am noted as being visually disabled (even though I now have good driving vision)
    on my licence. While I’ve never been “officially diagnosed” as being on the autism spectrum, I’d happily have a note about that- which would include “cannot stand person who isnt known touching me.” Would also tolerate an addition “will kick bite or crush such intrusive entity.”

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    one would hope cops would receive some training

    That's all you need. Otherwise you're heading for unpleasant territory.

    uneasy round issues of attaching labels

    Quite.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    +1 +++

    I have whanau who work in medical and/or rescue services. They have very regular upgrades of information & protocols.
    I know police officers have heaps on their plate- but surely no more than rural GPs? Fire chiefs?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Sacha,

    That’s all you need.

    But do not get. Otherwise by now we’d have widespread acknowledgement amongst police that an indigenous youth’s refusal to make prolonged eye contact is a sign of respect in that culture, not defiance. (Or it’s wilful ignorance. Same difference).

    Otherwise you’re heading for unpleasant territory.

    I take your point. But given that “sensitivity” and “police” are rarely found in a sentence (other than one which accuses the latter of lacking the former) and given that, IMHO, that’s never going to change… which is more unpleasant: discreet labelling or being treated like Arie and having the perpetrators get away with it by saying “we didn’t notice anything unusual”?

    At least then we could impose an objective procedure which must be followed by an officer once a suspect identified as suffering a mental disability, just as when they discover the “drunk” they’re about to throw in the tank is wearing a Medic Alert bracelet identifying them as diabetic.

    I’m not sure of the position in NZ nowadays but over here the list of conditions you are obliged to report include ADD/ADHD, depression and “other mental health problems, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis”.

    While the specific issue isn’t enumerated on the licence itself, confess to (or be reported as having) one of those conditions and your licence is endorsed “must take medication as prescribed by a medical practitioner” – which is of course just a tip-off to the officer who’s just pulled you over that he’s dealing with a “nutter”, because he certainly isn’t qualified to know whether or not you’re on your meds. So in effect the labelling, here at least, is already taking place; what’s lacking is the procedures to protect the vulnerable. And ownership of the labelling process by those affected.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    conditions you are obliged to report

    Putting the obligation on the wrong party, surely. Protecting the vulnerable should be a basic service ingredient. Though assuming that a particular condition always implies the same set of needs to be met is a mistake doctors and well-meaning policymakers often make. Rather not add cops to that list.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Like most things to do with autism, hard data is very hard to find. (I can't think of one database that has a nice neat tickbox space for 'autism' - even the census hides it.) But In my research I came across so many stories from countries around the world of autistic people getting tangled up with the law through sheer fear and misunderstanding. There is even a good fictional example in the novel, 'The curious incident of the dog in the night-time'. The police know there is an issue and there are some good people trying to improve understanding about autism, ADHD and also mental health conditions.

    A retired US judge and academic with an interest in this area, Judge David Admire, is coming to NZ and is speaking at VUW (possibly the Kelburn campus?) on 31 August. Members of the Police have been involved in bringing him here. I think he's also booked for a RNZ interview.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3213 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    the most difficult situation in live radio – the suicidal caller

    Yep. About the most traumatic morning I had at Parliament was receiving the call threatening murder and suicide. Very specific, very believable. 35 minutes on the phone and I was sh*tting myself. Police were excellent, and got back to me say they 'had things under control.' Anne from Parlt's employee assistance programme was great too.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    the “drunk” they’re about to throw in the tank is wearing a Medic Alert bracelet identifying them as diabetic.

    Yes, important to understand one can appear to be the other

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

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