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This week on ‘All Things Autism’, Anna spoke to Dion Brown and Sean Kennedy about a recent collaboration between the Metropolitan Police Service and AnnaKennedyOnline.

 

 

Dion is a Detective Superintendent with the Metropolitan Police Service with over 20 years’ service. He is father of two autistic children and soon will be reading criminology at the University of Cambridge in addition to working in East London. Sean is Anna’s husband and is autistic. He is a practicing barrister at Talem Law focusing mainly on education and disability issues in employment. He is founder of the nascent movement named ‘The future will only work with the help of autistic people” aimed at highlighting the vital role played by autistic people in securing, sustaining, and developing the ever-widening digital world we now live in.

 

The collaboration in question is the recent production of the guidance “Stop and Search – Guidance for Autistic people” which was produced in large part by the involvement of autistic people. The document has the following three aims. Firstly, to provide more information about stop and search and why it seen by police services as an important tool in the detection and prevention of crime – but only when it is used respectfully and to the high standard insisted upon by each service in the United Kingdom. Secondly to increase awareness of autism amongst police officers and what reasonable adjustments may need to be made by officers who interact with autistic people. Thirdly, and very importantly, to stress that all police services both value autistic people and are very clear that, subject to achieving the required selection standards, they are encouraged to pursue the many job opportunities that exist throughout policing.

 

 

Dion describes the statutory basis for stop and search then goes through in detail the steps that almost always need to be followed when an officer detains someone to search for prohibited items. Sean made clear that, whilst such interactions are not always welcomed, it is essential that police officers do not do anything to increase the anxiety of an autistic person being detained. Sean stresses that clear and effective communication by police officers is essential during such interactions. Dion also explained the potential benefits to an autistic person of carrying an Autism Alert Card and also the accompanying passport; this is an award winning initiative between three police services which was largely driven by himself and his colleague Inspector Liz Symmonds and also Amanda Gibbs who is a member of the Metropolitan Police Service Independent Advisory Group.

 

 

Sean also emphases that, whilst police services are required to take reasonable steps to avoid any disadvantage a disabled person is subject to as a result their impairments, it is certainly not the case that being disabled provides any immunity when it comes to committing a criminal offence. This is something that the members of the National Police Autism Association, who provided invaluable contributions to this guidance, were also keen to make clear.

 

Dion acknowledged the pressures he is subject to when carrying out his role and because of this he is very aware of the need to maintain a good work/ life balance and good mental health. In his case this is done by relaxing watching mainly television crime dramas and following Manchester United. Sean’s method of relaxing involves working on his computer, going to church, and following Fulham Football Club.

 

Should anyone wish to download the guidance, it can be found here:

 

https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/metropolitan-police/priorities_and_how_we_are_doing/corporate/stop-search-guidance-autistic-people-police-officers-large-print.pdf

 

 

Anyone who wants to know more about the many career opportunities in the Metropolitan Police Service can find more information here:

 

https://www.met.police.uk/car/careers/

 

More information on the Autism Alert Card and Passport mentioned by Dion can be found here:

 

https://www.npaa.org.uk/launch-of-tri-force-autism-alert-card-scheme/

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