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Our Campaign - The ADHD Liberty Project

Sarah has set up a campaign to push through the assessing of all offenders in prison for ADHD

Why Sarah set up this campaign

Sarah Templeton who set up Headstuff ADHD Liberty Ltd worked in the prison service for 4 1/2 years as a tutor and then counsellor. She was, and still is, appalled at the number of ADHD young offenders and adults with ADHD in prison. Figures banded about in the press and government are, in her opinion, wildly inaccurate. Put at 25%, this figure is based on people who are already diagnosed ADHD.

The vast majority of adolescents and adults in prison haven’t ever sat in front of an ADHD psychiatrist so nobody can possibly have any sort of accurate idea of how many people are trapped in prison with ADHD. Sarah puts the figure at far nearer 75% to 80%. Sarah has worked with a mental health nurse who herself has worked for 20 years in prisons and she puts the figure at around 85%.

Offenders with ADHD

When Sarah was working at Aylesbury Prison she had six counselling clients over a year. Three of these young offenders had been diagnosed with ADHD as young children but none of them were on medication. Meaning the risk-taking and thrillseeking behaviour was off the scale and by the age of 20 and 21 when she met them, they had been in an out of juvenile prison and young offender institutes so many times they were tired, old beyond their years, jaded, disillusioned and felt their situation and strong likelihood of reoffending meant their life was hopeless.

Of the three other clients Sarah worked with, two she has since gone on to identify have ADHD. Of the two she had worked out were also ADHD on the outside, she managed to get one of these diagnosed privately four years after he came out of prison, in 2020. That means 5 out of 6 clients in a young offenders institute had ADHD. This horrified and saddened Sarah to the point she is now absolutely determined to change the situation. She is now a vocal campaigner for offenders with ADHD and has made a speech at Parliament in front of the Justice Minister about this situation and won’t rest until all prisoners on induction wings are tested for ADHD.

The crazy situation in prisons is that everybody going into prison for the first time OR being moved prison OR going in prison every subsequent time ALWAYS spends at least a week if not two on an ‘prison induction wing’. On this induction wing they are mostly bored stiff! They can’t take on a job or go to education or gym do any of the other activities that usually keep them occupied. They sit around doing nothing. They do have tests for English, Maths, sexually transmitted diseases and basic mental health questions ie ‘are you depressed’ and ‘do you hear voices’.

However the one condition most of them have, is the one that isn’t being assessed for! The very simple online ADHD test that Sarah uses herself with private clients, takes less than five minutes to do. There is absolutely no reason why this test can’t be done at the same time. it wouldn’t cost the prison service 1p. It’s completely free. Yet it could quickly identify those scoring highly enough to see the prison psychiatrist. And then once diagnosed and medicated, the chance of them reoffending is extremely low. Think how much the prison service could be saving if 70% to 85% of them are proven to be ADHD? it’s a win-win situation. The government saves money locking people up, the prisons are half emptied and there would be a massive reduction in crime and so fewer victims.

Offenders with ADHD

When Sarah was working at Aylesbury Prison she had six counselling clients over a year. Three of these young offenders had been diagnosed with ADHD as young children but none of them were on medication. Meaning the risk-taking and thrillseeking behaviour was off the scale and by the age of 20 and 21 when she met them, they had been in an out of juvenile prison and young offender institutes so many times they were tired, old beyond their years, jaded, disillusioned and felt their situation and strong likelihood of reoffending meant their life was hopeless.

Of the three other clients Sarah worked with, two she has since gone on to identify have ADHD. Of the two she had worked out were also ADHD on the outside, she managed to get one of these diagnosed privately four years after he came out of prison, in 2020. That means 5 out of 6 clients in a young offenders institute had ADHD. This horrified and saddened Sarah to the point she is now absolutely determined to change the situation. She is now a vocal campaigner for offenders with ADHD and has made a speech at Parliament in front of the Justice Minister about this situation and won’t rest until all prisoners on induction wings are tested for ADHD.

The crazy situation in prisons is that everybody going into prison for the first time OR being moved prison OR going in prison every subsequent time ALWAYS spends at least a week if not two on an ‘prison induction wing’. On this induction wing they are mostly bored stiff!

They can’t take on a job or go to education or gym do any of the other activities that usually keep them occupied. They sit around doing nothing. They do have tests for English, Maths, sexually transmitted diseases and basic mental health questions ie ‘are you depressed’ and ‘do you hear voices’.

However the one condition most of them have, is the one that isn’t being assessed for! The very simple online ADHD test that Sarah uses herself with private clients, takes less than five minutes to do. There is absolutely no reason why this test can’t be done at the same time. it wouldn’t cost the prison service 1p. It’s completely free. Yet it could quickly identify those scoring highly enough to see the prison psychiatrist.

And then once diagnosed and medicated, the chance of them reoffending is extremely low. Think how much the prison service could be saving if 70% to 85% of them are proven to be ADHD? it’s a win-win situation. The government saves money locking people up, the prisons are half emptied and there would be a massive reduction in crime and so fewer victims.

The ADHD Liberty Project

Sarah has now set up a campaign to push through the assessing of all offenders in prison for ADHD. ‘The ADHD Liberty Project‘ will be set up in 2021 to fulfil a promise Sarah made when she left the prison service in 2016. She told the boys she was working with at Portland prison that she would not rest until every single one of them was tested for ADHD. And she won’t. But also the campaign aims to do the following :

Make sure everybody entering a police station for the first time is tested for ADHD

For all currently serving prisoners to be tested for ADHD

For any offender going into a new prison or to prison for the first time, to be tested for ADHD on the induction wing

For those diagnosed ADHD and already in prison, to be permitted to take ADHD medication

For the police and prison service to be trained in spotting and managing ADHD

The campaign will also offer no-cost and low-cost counselling and coaching for ADHD teens and adults not in prison, but who find themselves in trouble with the law and who can’t afford to pay for private therapy.

Sarah has a team of counsellors and psychotherapists equally as passionate as her about keeping ADHD people out of prison and who work with her in the campaign.

The campaign also works closely with ADHD specialist psychiatrists, solicitors and barristers who will help ADHD diagnosed kids and adults deal with any legal problems they run into.

The ADHD Liberty Project

Sarah has now set up a campaign to push through the assessing of all offenders in prison for ADHD. ‘The ADHD Liberty Project‘ has been set up in 2020 to fulfil a promise Sarah made when she left the prison service in 2016. She told the boys she was working with at Portland prison that she would not rest until every single one of them was tested for ADHD. And she won’t. But also the campaign aims to do the following :

Make sure everybody entering a police station for the first time is tested for ADHD

For all currently serving prisoners to be tested for ADHD

For any offender going into a new prison or to prison for the first time, to be tested for ADHD on the induction wing

For those diagnosed ADHD and already in prison, to be permitted to take ADHD medication

For the police and prison service to be trained in spotting and managing ADHD

The campaign will also offer no-cost and low-cost counselling and coaching for ADHD teens and adults not in prison, but who find themselves in trouble with the law and who can’t afford to pay for private therapy.

Sarah has a team of counsellors and psychotherapists equally as passionate as her about keeping ADHD people out of prison and who work with her in the campaign.

The campaign also works closely with ADHD specialist psychiatrists, solicitors and barristers who will help ADHD diagnosed kids and adults deal with any legal problems they run into.