The scheme is a joint project between the Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police and British Transport Police, and is endorsed by the National Police Autism Association. It was developed following extensive consultations with autistic individuals and their parents, the National Autistic Society, Autism Partnership Boards and other partner agencies.
The cards will alert officers to the fact that the individual may have difficulty with communication and may exhibit unusual or unpredictable behaviour. In turn, officers will be able to adjust their communication style to interact with the individual appropriately. The card also details how autism can present, and provides practical advice for the officer involved.
The scheme was funded by the MPS under the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash and assets confiscated from criminals.
The alert cards, and larger ‘passports’ carrying the same information, will be distributed and made available through autistic partnership boards and local police across the capital.
Agency reverses change to website requiring all autistic drivers to declare their condition
The DVLA has today issued a statement confirming that autistic drivers are only obliged to complete a medical declaration if their condition affects their driving. Twitter users had noticed that the agency’s website had been updated to require drivers to declare autism and ADHD in all cases, a change from the previous wording which requested disclosure only if a person’s ability to drive a vehicle was affected. The updated policy, which had not been announced, warned that drivers failing to disclose the conditions risked a fine of £1,000.
Following several days of discussion on social media and representations from the National Autistic Society, the DVLA released the following statement on their Twitter account:
“In our attempt to clarify the advice for drivers with autism spectrum disorders we’ve clearly muddied the waters and we’re very sorry for that. We have amended the advice on http://gov.uk for both drivers and medical professionals which make it clear that a driver who has an autism spectrum disorder only need tell us if their condition could affect their driving.”
Following a consultation exercise in January 2018, the Department of Transport has announced that from 2019, hidden disabilities such as autism will be included in the Blue Badge scheme. This gives individuals and carers access to disabled parking spaces, which can make a big difference in leading an independent life.
The previous Blue Badge scheme prioritised physical disabilities, with eligibility of autism and other hidden conditions being open to interpretation by local authorities. The new scheme explicitly includes those who:
cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
More information on the forthcoming changes is available on the Government website. The announcement has been reported by BBC News and other national news websites.