A place where intellectual disability can atrophy away

Dr Anthony Duncan1

1Forensic Coordination Service (ID) , Karori, New Zealand


Zealand’s Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act (ID CCR Act) provides for the care and rehabilitation, within disability services of certain individuals with a statutorily defined intellectual disability (ID) who have been convicted of, or found unfit to stand trial on, imprisonable offences. In the Act ID is defined as a permanent impairment in intellectual functioning and the definition includes an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 70 or less. The ID CCR Act cannot apply to those without a statutorily defined ID, and case law has established that this prohibition applies to those already subject to an ID CCR Act order.

The ID CCR Act applies in the New Zealand Youth Court. Since its inception in 2004  a small number of adolescents have been made care recipients having been found unfit to stand trial on the basis of an ID. An ID which soon atrophied away once they have become subject to ID CCR Act orders.

These adolescents have all had involvement with Oranga Tamariki (Child Youth and Family Services) and   disposition via an ID CCCR Act order has sometimes been seen by the Court and Oranga Tamariki the best outcome for the adolescent.

This paper briefly reviews 2 recent representative cases. It then discusses the complexities associated with the charging, assessing and making of dispositions for adolescents in an environment where disability services are sometimes seen as the best or even the only cab on the rack.


Anthony Duncan is a Forensic Psychiatrist in Wellington New Zealand who is currently National Advisor in the Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act

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