A dozen Leicestershire police officers unveiled their new British Sign Language (BSL) skills at the joint Leicestershire Police and Action Deafness ‘Hear my Voice’ consultation event, part of National Deaf Awareness Week (Mon May 7 to Sun May 13, 2012). Project partner, Action Deafness, also launched the new Keep Safe Card for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.
Trained as a first contact response for engagement with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people; BSL trained officers will be called upon to reassure Deaf people ahead of a BSL interpreter arriving at the scene.
Chief Constable Simon Cole is the Association of Chief Police Officers lead for Disability and Mental Health driving change at a national strategic level. He said: “Twelve officers have now passed the first part of their Level 1 BSL course, with the ability to communicate directions and greetings and attend to the wellbeing of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. This is a positive step toward providing the kind of service needed by these communities.”
Chief Inspector Rich Keenan, the Force’s new champion for Deaf issues has also begun taking lessons in BSL. He said: “The ‘Hear my Voice’ event generated some new solutions to problems identified by Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. We’ll be taking these forward to look at them in greater depth.”
Jaz Mann, Cultural Manager for Action Deafness launched the new Keep Safe Card for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people as part of National Deaf Awareness Week, he said: “The Keep Safe Card gives Deaf and Hard of Hearing people a way of stating their preferred method of communication and listing any allergies or health conditions to overcome any initial barriers to communication with the police in emergency situations. Communicating this vital information could save a person’s life.
"The Keep Safe Card was originally created by Leicestershire County Learning Disability Partnership Board to assist people with a learning disability to communicate in emergency situations. We would like to thank them for allowing us to take their concept, and adapt it to make it appropriate for the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people."
Bernard Greaves, Chair of the Diversity Committee for Leicestershire Police Authority, attended the event. He said: “It is encouraging to see police officers embrace British Sign Language and other methods of communication in the pursuit of closer links with Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Seeing the communities’ points of view will help to develop a service which better serves the needs of our rich and diverse society.”
Leicestershire Police has an established Drop-In service where once a month one of the Deaf Awareness trained police officers who are studying for their Level 1 BSL attend the Peepul Centre for two hours, with a BSL interpreter.
Chief Inspector Rich Keenan commented: “The Drop-In service has been running for three months now and has been very well received. Any Deaf person who has an issue they want to discuss with a police officer can drop-in at any time on those specific mornings to raise them, knowing that the officer will be fully trained in Deaf Awareness, and that an interpreter will also be available so the Deaf person doesn't need to have concerns about being unable to communicate when they get there.”
The Drop-In service venue will be changing from June 2012 to The Firs (698 Aylestone Road, Leicester), where Leicester Deaf Over 50s Club meets on a regular basis. A loop system is also available.
Chief inspector Rich Keenan added: “We recognise that, in addition to making our police officers Deaf aware, we must increase the accessibility of our service to Deaf people. The Drop In service allows us to take our service to the Deaf community.
“To have the Police Drop-In based at The Firs at the same time as the Over 50s Club means it will be accessible for more of the Deaf community at a venue many already attend."
For further information about Action Deafness visit http://www.actiondeafness.org.uk/
To see an example of the Keep Safe Card, click here. To order a Keep Safe Card, contact Action Deafness via e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone 0116 2533200 (Main Line), 0116 2533223 (Fax) or text 07949 632644 (SMS).
If you are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and you would like to contact your local police regarding a non-emergency matter please use the 18001 101 textphone service. The 18001 101 textphone number is the same service as the new 101 police non-emergency number.
For more information about the new 18001 101 service go to www.leics.police.uk/101
In an emergency, always textphone 18000; this is the same service as the emergency 999 service.