Metropolitan Police Service | autism awareness
The Metropolitan Police Service recently invited me to deliver a series of presentations on autism, the first one of which was delivered on Monday the 10th June 2013 and the second on the 1st July.
There is a real passion coming from officers I spoke with to know more about autism and how they can improve the quality of engagement between police officers and those with autistic spectrum disorder.
The role of our police officers in the current climate is extremely difficult and years of exemplary service to the public can be destroyed by one adverse media portrayal of an event. The media habitually neglects to mention the positive role of our police officers despite the often heroic acts they perform to protect members of the public on a daily basis. I know officers who have worked in the county forces and in London and I feel very proud of all them who are under constant pressure from the media.
Recent media coverage of several incidents involving police officers and individuals with autistic spectrum disorder have been predominantly negative. Difficult decisions have been made by officer's in the best interests of preserving life in the past which have unfortunately resulted in heightened fear and anxiety for ASD individuals, however, I believe that the MPS are now focused on improving the officer's awareness of autism.
The Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing report was recently published and heavily critised the police for a lack of training and awareness relating to dealing with people with mental health issues.
Although correct in many ways it should be kept in mind that the report looked at 55 MPS cases over 5 years. Given that officers deal with cases involving mental health issues every single day, a lot of good work is going unreported.
I have personally heard accounts from people suffering from mental health issues of how well they were treated by officers when they were dealt with.
The event was organised by the Safer Schools Team based at Empress State Building and included other elements of mental health.
The MPS are currently working on a new training package to deliver to officers following the The Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing report.
The topics I covered during the presentation included:
What autism is
Signs that someone may have autism
Statistics on crime and autism
How to engage someone with autism as a police officer
Information for the arresting officer
Organisations that help with autism
I am delivering the next presentation in September and hope to continue working with the MPS to help give Police Officers what they need to do the job they love.