Sheila Forder Bedfordshire Police seeks input from the public for new scheme to assist those with autism Image:Bedfordshire Police

New scheme to help those with autism, or other communication difficulties when contacting the police 

Bedfordshire Police is inviting the local community to attend a focus group. This is to get an input into a proposed scheme to help those with autism, or other communication difficulties, when coming into contact with police.

The scheme would ask people to register and give a few simple details and an outline of their conditions. Then, if police help is required, call handlers can provide appropriate information to responding officers.

Similar schemes are run in other police force areas. These are designed to assist those who live or work within the county, and who are independent in the community, with or without home help/care, who have an illness or disability which makes it hard to speak to the police, or make themselves understood in a difficult situation.

Sheila Forder, who is the force’s lead on autism, said:

“We recognise that not all disabilities are visible, and are committed to providing the best possible service to our communities.

“Such a scheme is one example of how the force is trying to make it easier for people with disabilities to deal with us by phone or in person.

“Prior to the launch of any scheme, it is important we truly understand the requirements of those who might use it. Hearing that feedback first hand is vitally important to its future success.”

A focus group will be held at police headquarters on Wednesday 22 January, at 6.30pm. It will last around an hour and a half, to outline the proposal. Feedback from participants will be instrumental in shaping how the scheme could work in Bedfordshire.

If you are a person with autism or other communication difficulties, or you are a carer, your feedback would be appreciated.

Register at Eventbrite to attend the focus group. Tickets are free and parking is available.