Counter-terrorist police launch neurodivergent internship scheme

Investigator Tal Stein shares details of the Supported Internship Scheme for neurodivergent young people piloted within the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU)

More than six years ago, my son received a diagnosis of autism and ADHD. Since then, I’ve done a lot of research and learning, as well as volunteering and fundraising for a local charity, SPACE, that helped us when we received the diagnosis.

From that learning, I discovered that some neurodivergent people enjoy the security that comes from doing tasks that, to a neurotypical person, may feel tedious and repetitive.

I’m a fraud investigator for ERSOU – the job can involve many time-consuming administrative tasks that don’t need to be done by an experienced professional, but are nevertheless vital to our work and need to be completed to a high standard. With my personal combination of knowledge and experience, I suggested bringing in neurodivergent young people on a Supported Internship Scheme to do some of those tasks.

The scheme is ‘supported’ because the intern comes with a job coach provided by the intern’s college, who liaises with the task provider to learn what the task is and then breaks it down into small steps that the coach teaches the intern. Once the intern has mastered the task, the job coach steps away, and the intern gets on with the task on their own.

Our first intern Becky Hart arrived in September 2021, and she has worked on the Bedfordshire Police Pegasus Scheme, sending out packs to members of the public who want to get a Pegasus card. She has also caught up on historical data for the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre and kept their (very large) database up to date. This work also involved some Companies House research, which she really enjoyed. Lastly, Becky has regularly worked on the Agency & Partners Management Information System (APMIS) for the Regional Organised Crime Threat Assessment Unit, and consistently achieved a 99.4% accuracy on the work she completes!

Recently Becky started to work on making some of the ERSOU Role Profiles accessibility-compliant (changing fonts, layout, colours etc.) She has also completed a number of small one-off jobs, such as using Adobe Acrobat to redact an expert’s report for a jury evidence bundle, and photocopying and assembling cocooning packs ready for distribution.

From being in a working environment for six months, Becky has learnt self-organising skills, gained in confidence and learned to be more resilient. She has now started looking for a permanent job, whilst she still has the support network of her college and her job coach.

The plan is to roll out the scheme across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire over the next couple of years. ∎

For more information on the ERSOU Supported Internship Scheme, contact us using the Recruitment option

Becky Hart receiving a Commendation for her work with ERSOU from ACC Dan Vajzovic