Autism Awareness Presentation Delivered to the Metropolitan Police Service

 Katherine Goodsell and the MPS

On the 14th October 2013, The Metropolitan Police Service invited me to deliver a 3rd presentation on autism awareness.

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 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.

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.
— Katherine
 

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.

 Autism Alert Cards
 Police Officers Autism
 

The topics I covered during the presentation included:

What autism is

Signs that someone may have autism

Statistics on crime and autism

Social relationships

How to engage someone with autism as a police officer

Information for the arresting officer

Custody

Interview

Organisations that help with autism

 

 
 Daily Mail Autism
 The Guardian Autism
 
Both these articles were printed this year. Although they highlight a need for further awareness by officers, the coverage does not tell the whole story.

Police officers are expected to perform the role of doctors, social workers, marriage guidance counsellors, psychologists and academics and effectively manage situations within seconds of arriving on the scene.

On very few occasions, with respect to the demands of the role and the often limited training they have received in autism awareness and mental health, officers have made mistakes, however, the focus now is to improve officer’s understanding and the overall service to the public.
— Katherine