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College of Policing releases workplace adjustments report

New discovery report outlines recommendations for improving diversity and inclusion in policing

The College of Policing has released a discovery report on workplace adjustments (also known as reasonable adjustments) supporting disabled and neurodivergent officers and staff in the police service.

The report was commissioned by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) as part of the Police Uplift Programme, the Government’s commitment to recruit an additional 20,000 officers by March 2023. Research was carried out by the College and PurpleSpace, the professional networking hub for disabled employees, with Force leads and individual officers and staff invited to participate in surveys run over the early part of 2021.

The report features quotations and personal stories, benchmarking studies from the public and private sector, and recommendations for change. Good practice by some police forces is highlighted, but the research also identifies a widespread lack of understanding of the importance of workplace adjustments in enabling disabled and neurodivergent staff to realise their potential. Key focus areas for improving inclusion across policing include strong leadership, effective employee networks, culture and language in relation to disability and neurodiversity.

A working group chaired by Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, the NPCC’s lead for disability, is reviewing the recommendations. DCC Blakeman said: “Our colleagues’ stories show us that simple adjustments can make a huge difference, empowering individuals to give their best and helping forces to build strong inclusive teams that are reflective of our communities.”

Some key takeaways from the individuals, HR business partners and diversity leads taking part in the survey:

  • 25 police forces had achieved Disability Confident Level 2 accreditation, with a further five Forces and the College of Policing achieving the top Level 3 tier (Disability Confident Leader)
  • 45% of Force Diversity & Inclusion strategies made reference to neurodiversity
  • 53% of HR departments were confident in the ability of first and second line managers to have proactive and inclusive conversations with their staff about disability
  • 69% of individuals had personally experienced, or were aware of a colleague having experienced, refusal of a reasonable adjustment request

Click on the image above to view the report page on the College of Policing website, or click on the link to download the PDF (133 pages). (A 3 minute video summary of the key points is available from Rank Success.)

The NPAA would like to thank the College of Policing and NPCC for the opportunity to participate in this project. ∎

PRESS RELEASE: Merseyside Police assault incident

London, UK: The National Police Autism Association (NPAA) is today aware of a report by Channel 4 on a Merseyside Police officer convicted of assault on a 10 year old autistic child. The officer, who retired from the Force after the incident, was later found to have committed gross misconduct and was placed on the College of Policing Barred List.

As a national network supporting neurodiversity in the police service, many of our members are autistic themselves or parents of autistic children, and we are shocked and saddened by what was clearly a failure in the officer’s duty of care. We join the Merseyside Police Professional Standards Department in offering reassurance that the officer’s actions do not reflect the behaviour and standards of our colleagues, who do the best they can to protect vulnerable adults and children.

Although all police officers receive some training on autism, this is often included as part of a larger input on mental health issues. The NPAA advocates for dedicated autism training to be provided to all frontline officers and staff, as part of our aim to promote best practice for working with the autistic community.

About us: The NPAA is a national support network for police officers, staff and volunteers affected by autism and other neurodivergent conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. We welcome all police personnel with a personal, family or professional interest in these conditions.

“I used my experience to improve life for others”

From an autistic Police Constable to Police Sergeant – how one officer successfully challenged the system and improved career prospects for neurodivergent colleagues

Sergeant Suzanne Burke

Back in April we published a blog by Suzanne Burke, a Constable with the Metropolitan Police Service, in which she spoke candidly about her experiences as an autistic police officer. For several years, Suzanne had tried unsuccessfully to achieve promotion, having passed the exams but finding the final interview stage to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Suzanne volunteered as a Police Federation representative in order to help colleagues who are neurodivergent themselves or need advice and support in managing neurodivergent colleagues. With the help of the Federation, Suzanne obtained funding for a National Autistic Society workplace assessment and secured the reasonable adjustments she needed. Since writing her blog, and with this additional support in place, Suzanne was successful in achieving promotion to the rank of Sergeant.

Suzanne said: “I’m now in a Metropolitan Police Service that is getting better all the time and there’s a willingness to change, even right up at the top.”

Read more about Suzanne’s personal journey in the Summer 2021 issue of the MPS Federation London Beat Magazine (click on the links for the online magazine and a PDF download of the article). ∎