On Monday the 10th June, the Metropolitan Police Service welcomed me into Empress State Building to deliver the first of several presentations on autism.
The event was organised by the Safer Schools Teams with an aim to better understand how they can improve engagement with autistic children in schools.
There is a real passion amongst the officers to improve their knowledge and understanding of autism in children and I was warmly welcomed onto the stage to deliver my 45 minute presentation.
I had delivered presentations of this type to local officers in 2012 but this was the first presentation I had delivered from a central policing perspective. The MPS are working hard to create and deliver an effective training programme to officers on autism and other areas of mental health.
Following The Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing report the Police have once again been on the receiving end of a very large stick. Although the report does highlight wide gaps in officers knowledge and understanding of mental health it equally fails to highlight the good work that is carried out on a daily basis up and down the country.
It looked at 55 cases over 5 years within the Metropolitan Police Service area. These were considered the most serious of failings by the Police and either involved serious injury or death. Given that the report failed to highlight the positive work being done by officers, it needs to be bourne in mind that it is not the case that the Police do not care about people with autism, it is simply that they have not been trained to deal with them as effectively as we are now asking them to.
We ask a lot from our Police Officers and at times we expect them to change roles instantly from law enforcement to doctors, social workers, marriage guidance counsellors, psychologists, academics and many more I could list.
The important thing right now is that they are making efforts to improve their service to people suffering from mental health issues and they are motivated and have the heart to do so.
I am delivering several more presentations to the police and welcome any comments or address any questions you may have on the subject. If there is something you believe the Police should consider as part of their training then I want to hear about it.