Suspects held in City of London Police custody being screened for ADHD in UK first

Bishopsgate Police Station (City of London Police )
Bishopsgate Police Station (City of London Police )

Suspects held by the City of London Police will be screened for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in a UK first trial.

The pilot aims to identify those with ADHD entering the criminal justice system at an early stage so they can be swiftly referred for diagnosis, medicated where needed and better supported.

The force claims to be the first in the UK to screen detainees for ADHD, a condition that includes symptoms such as being restless, having trouble concentrating acting without thinking and a short attention span.

“Urgent cases” will be fast-tracked to an NHS provider of adult ADHD assessments, City of London Police said on Wednesday.

The initial ADHD screening checklist has been created by counsellor, therapist and chief executive of ADHD Liberty, Sarah Templeton, who has worked in four prisons across England.

It’s hoped the assessment will give officers a better understanding of the crimes committed by people with ADHD to curb reoffending.

Dame Sally Coates’ HMIP report in 2021 suggested that it would be reasonable to assume that at least 50 per cent of prisoners have some form of neurodivergence.

Ms Templeton believes the figure is considerably higher. She has worked for seven years to raise awareness of the commonality of ADHD among offenders.

She said the pilot will “prove how many people being held in police stations have undiagnosed ADHD”.

Ms Templeton added: “A mental health nurse I have spoken to, who has worked in prisons for 20 years, puts the rate of ADHD at 85 per cent. It shows how serious the problem is.

“Our goal is to screen current prisoners and those in police custody and medicate those with ADHD. We want all forces to follow the City of London’s stance as it will greatly improve our understanding of the issues and help prevent reoffending.”

Detective Chief Inspector Anna Rice, of the City of London Police, said the pilot will help ensure detainees with ADHD are processed fairly.

“This comes soon after we were the first in the country to have successfully used a new Mental Health and Neurodevelopmental Checklist when dealing with suspects.

“People’s mental health is very important to us and we’ll continue champion initiatives that secures the most appropriate outcome for those suspects with neurodiversity whilst obtaining positive outcomes for the victims.”

This new pilot will coincide with a mental health checklist already incorporated in processing suspects through the criminal justice system.

The mental health checklist, developed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, aims to improve the depth and quality of information provided to CPS prosecutors before they make charging and case management decisions.

It also helps to ensure that suspects and defendants with mental health conditions or disorders are accurately identified.