Category Archives: News

Updated police autism guide released

The National Autistic Society has released the latest version of their guide for police officers and staff, updated September 2020. The document contains simple ‘do’s and dont’s’ for dealing with autistic suspects, victims of crime and witnesses, and examples of best practice.

The NPAA would like to extend our thanks to the NAS for providing the opportunity for us to contribute to this important piece of work, which will assist in our aim of training all frontline police officers in recognising and working with autism.

Click on the image to link to a free PDF download (email address required). Click here for the NAS online shop.

Coronavirus: new requirement for face coverings in shops

From the 24th July 2020 it will be mandatory by law to wear a face covering in shops, supermarkets, transport hubs and other enclosed public spaces in England, as part of the effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. Face coverings have been required to be worn on public transport in England since the 15th June. (Different rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.)

Exemptions apply for disabilities or conditions such as autism where wearing a face covering would cause distress. To assist with explaining the need for an exemption, information cards suitable for displaying on a phone or printing are available on the GOV.UK website (click on the link to access PDF downloads).

Note that it is not a requirement in law to carry an information card or medical evidence supporting an exemption – the Government website advises:

Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.
Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this. Written evidence includes exemption cards.

Further resources and advice are available from the National Autistic Society.

NPAA holds ‘world first’ Neurodiversity in Policing conference

Police officers, staff, support professionals and volunteers came together on the 12th March to attend a pioneering conference on neurodiversity in policing. The event, believed to be the first of its kind promoting cognitive diversity within the police service, was jointly organised by the National Police Autism Association and Devon & Cornwall Police, which funded and hosted the event at its HQ in Exeter, Devon.

Chris Packham

The event featured guest speakers including naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham, who spoke movingly about his experiences as an undiagnosed autistic teenager, and Dr Luke Beardon, Senior Lecturer in autism at Sheffield Hallam University. Delegates also took part in workshops on managing and supporting neurodivergent staff in the workplace, and supporting officers and staff with caring responsibilities.

NPAA founder and chair John Nelson, an officer with British Transport Police, opened the conference. Mr Nelson said: “Back in 2015 when the NPAA launched, neurodiversity was still a bleeding-edge concept in the private sector, and had barely been heard of in the police service. I could never have guessed that nearly five years later, this event would have been possible, or that neurodiversity would have made the impact it already has on the way we as a service approach diversity.”

Dr Luke Beardon

In another ‘first’, it was announced that Alexis Poole, Assistant Chief Officer (People) with Devon & Cornwall Police had been appointed Neurodiversity Lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the professional body for chief officers. Mr Nelson commented: “This is a fantastic step forward in recognising and embracing a new concept of difference within the police service, and I for one am excited about where this journey will take us.”

The conference was attended by over 150 delegates, including senior officers and HR staff from police forces across the UK. The NPAA hopes to plan a follow-up event in 2021.

Click on the link for a selection of tweets from the conference. More information, including slides and video from the day, is available on the NPAA’s Police Neurodiversity Forum – details on how to register can be found on the Membership page. ∎