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 ConfidentLevel 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. ∎
From an autistic Police Constable to Police Sergeant – how one officer successfully challenged the system and improved career prospects for neurodivergent colleagues
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). ∎
Vice Admiral Hine – as Second Sea Lord, the second highest ranking officer in the Navy – was diagnosed with autism 10 years ago. At the time he only disclosed his diagnosis to close friends and family.
In the interview, Hine talked about his reputation for being “blunt, challenging and difficult”, which eventually led him to seek a formal diagnosis. These traits, along with a single-minded determination helped him to forge a career in the Navy. With his retirement approaching in 2022, Hine made the decision to speak out in order to highlight the value of neurodiversity to the Armed Forces and the particular skills that conditions such as autism can bring to the service.
The Vice Admiral described himself as having a brain that is “wired differently”, and said: “It doesn’t mean that I am disabled, it doesn’t mean that I am odd, it doesn’t mean that I am in any way shape or form less capable. It means that I am different.” Hine went on to state his belief that it was essential for the UK’s military to recruit those who could think differently in order to remain an effective fighting force in years to come.