Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) in the Justice System: Information minisite

Welcome to our Youth Justice and Forensic Speech and Language Therapy Information minisite. 


At least 60% of young people in the youth justice system have speech, language and communication needs, a fact highlighted during last year's Hello, national year of communication campaign, sponsored by Pearson Assessment.

As a result, many of these young people cannot comprehend basic legal terminology to assist them through the legal process1. Many also lack the communication skills necessary to benefit from rehabilitation programmes2.

In addition, evidence indicates that a substantial impact and savings can be made through a relatively small investment in support and treatment services3 as delivery of speech and language therapy in Young Offenders Institutions has been shown to reduce re-offending rates by as much as 50%4. The Equalities Act (2010) provides for the elimination of discrimination, making provision and services accessible5.

RCSLT calls for 'joined up approach' to criminal justice 

In 2010, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) called on the Government to adopt a ‘joined up approach’ to criminal justice by addressing the communication difficulties that are commonly a root cause of disruptive and criminal behaviour.6 This would necessarily include the main statutory agencies of the police, probation, health, social care and education.

Research also shows that the level of speech and language development in children as young as two years of age is a powerful predictor of their future educational, social and personal achievement.7 Therefore early screening and and provision of SLCN services at universal, targeted and specialist levels is also key. 

What this minisite provides

In line with The Children's Communication Coalition (CCC) for England’s key objective to:

Ensure appropriate screening, specialist assessment and intervention are available to children and young people who are already in the criminal justice pathway

This minisite is designed to provide a range of assessments which are available from Pearson Assessment.

You can find separate pages covering areas including Language, Communication, Literacy, Achievement and General Ability, Cognition and Memory, Behaviour, Mental Health, and Life Skills and Well Being all of which may be suitable in helping you support young offenders with speech, language and communication needs.

You can also find information on The Communication Trust’s new Youth Justice programme as well as links to relevant websites, groups and newsletters.


1 RCSLT, press release, 18 November, 2009

2 + 3 Hartley, K., 2012. Developing a SLT justice service from scratch; an account and learning from our journey so far. RCSLT Scientific Conference, September, 11, 2012, Manchester

4 Bryan, K, 2004. Prevalence of speech and language difficulties in young offenders. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 39, 391-400.

5 Equality Act, 2010 Crown copyright, UK by The Stationery Office Limited under the authority and superintendence of Carol Tullo, Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and Queen’s Printer of Acts of Parliament4/2010 445975 19585

6 RCSLT, press release 7 July 2010.

7 Children’s Communication Coalition (CCC). Retrieved 02 October 2012 from:


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