Police attitudes toward people with intellectual disability: an evaluation of awareness training

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It is argued that more favourable police attitudes to people with intellectual disability (ID) are essential in meeting the police code of ethics, which stresses impartiality and respect for human dignity. The need to acknowledge and investigate the extent of support for eugenic attitudes in other key professionals who have a significant role in the successful inclusion of people with ID in community settings is discussed. The present paper reports on the evaluation of an awareness training event conducted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary in terms of the impact on attitudes towards people with ID held by police officers. The quasi-experimental design involved the measurement of participants' attitudes prior to and following awareness training, and the comparison of these data with a control group of participants who did not undertake awareness exercises. The Attitudes toward Mental Retardation and Eugenics (AMRE) scale was the instrument used to measure attitudes. Analysis identified the presence of varying degrees of support for the application of eugenic principles to people with ID. Furthermore, the results indicate that participation in the awareness exercise and subsequent discussions is associated with a significant reduction in support for eugenic-based attitudes towards people with ID by the police officers involved. Investment in training events which target attitudes towards people with ID can bring about a shift in reported attitudes. The importance of evaluating such awareness-raising exercises and their impact on police behaviour is highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-350
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue numberPart 4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 2001


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