Multiple and concurrent challenges


  • Crisis contact with systems: Individuals with FASD, as they experience multiple stressors, can come to rely on emergency interventions, for example via policing or health services.
  • Community supports and services: Individuals with FASD may have disproportionate contact with the justice system but this is often emblematic of not being connected to appropriate supports and services.  Get to know the appropriate supports and services in your community to help connect them to those supports.
  • Housing and employment: It is common for individuals with FASD to struggle with housing and employment. An encounter with police could be one of many stressors in their daily life.  Housing vulnerability produces many adverse outcomes. Become familiar with resources in your community that can link to housing support.
  • Victim/ Offender/ Witness: It is not unusual for someone with FASD to rotate between being a witness, victim, and offender. When conducting an investigation, remember that in an encounter with the justice system they might be any or all of these.  Modified supports and services might be needed and appropriate.
  • Capacity and culpability:  An individual with FASD may present with cognitive challenges which may make it difficult for them to connect cause and consequence. For example, they might commit an act without realizing that it is an offence, or they might be coached into criminal action. Consider the capacity of the individual relative to the offence and whether there might be other players in involved.
  • Alternative justice practices:  When appropriate, consider diverting an individual with FASD out of the justice system or making recommendations to Crown (or others in charge of alternative justice programs) to have them switched to a dedicated docket such as mental health court or Gladue court.