The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is supporting the work being done by the National Police Autism Association (NPAA) as part of World Autism Awareness Week.
Pioneered by the National Autistic Society and held from Monday 26 March to Easter Monday 2 April, the week aims to draw attention to the 700,000 people living with autism in the UK, both to educate those who are unaware of the condition and to help make the world friendlier to those who are affected by it.
Autism is believed to affect one in 60 people in some way, impacting how a person communicates with and relates to others and how they experience the world around them. It is characterised by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication as well as restricted and repetitive behaviour.
World Autism Awareness Week shines a spotlight on the hurdles that people with autism can face. This year the focus is on opportunities for people with neurodiverse conditions in the workplace.
The NPAA is a staff network supporting police officers and staff who are affected by autism and other neurodiverse conditions.
This year, supported by the NPCC, the NPAA will shine the spotlight through case studies of members of UK forces who are either on the autism spectrum themselves or who have friends or family who are. This will highlight opportunities to work in policing and how forces are seeking to understand this condition better to keep people safe and to ensure that those with autism have a positive experience when they come into contact with officers.
Cheshire Constabulary’s Acting Chief Constable Janette McCormick, who is the NPCC’s Disability Lead, said: “The blogs will help with understanding the difficulties that people with autism face on a daily basis, work that is going on in forces across the country to support people with neurodiverse conditions and what more we can do as a service and employers.
“Our frontline officers receive awareness and training to help them when interacting with people with autism and other disabilities. We now have greater awareness of the condition and that is changing our approach to dealing with people with autism who have come into contact with the police as a victim or an offender.
“We recognise that autism is a hidden disability and that people on the autism spectrum can be targeted.
“We have done a lot of work in recent times to improve the service the force provides for people with autism and other disabilities, but there is still work to be done and we are committed to further improving the processes we have in place in this area.”