Set standards needed so forces can support neurodiverse officers, says Fed chair

Dyfed Powys Police Federation chair Gareth Jones has called for set standards for the way forces support neurodiverse officers.

Gareth said that guidance was needed to prevent disparities and inequalities and to provide the best possible support for neurodiverse colleagues.

“Many of our colleagues are neurodiverse and there will be some who suspect they may be or are unaware they are,” he said.

“At the moment there are discrepancies in the way they’re supported – through an assessment, for instance – and in the adjustments needed to flourish in their role.

“Those forces that understand the benefit of supporting officers through an assessment will benefit from different ideas, different solutions and different ways of looking at the world.

“But it isn’t fair that other forces don’t provide that support and will expect them to fund their own assessment or join a waiting list – effectively creating a postcode lottery within the service.

“We need to create spaces for neurodiverse colleagues to be heard and for senior officers to make sure they’re listened to, so that we’re making the most of the skills of all of our officers.

“Some forces are getting it right but others aren’t, which is why there needs to be set standards across policing to ensure neurodiverse officers are the best police officers they can be.”

Gareth’s comments come as Paul Matthews, Police Federation of England and Wales National Board member and diversity lead, blogged about neurodiverse representation in policing.

Neurodiversity refers to the differences in the ways people’s brain works and can refer to conditions such as ADHD, autism, dyscalculia and dyslexia. It’s estimated that 7 million people in the UK live with dyslexia, 2.6m people live with ADHD, 750,000 people live with autism and that 6 per cent live with dyscalculia.

Paul said: “Considering the amount of people currently living with neurodiversity and other conditions, it is inevitable many will be your colleagues in the police.

“Those with a confirmed diagnosis have access to specific workplace adjustments that should support parity in performance and fosters greater inclusivity. However, most people won’t even be aware they have one of these conditions.

“It’s crucial that police officers and staff are able to access assessment and diagnosis opportunities so they might be better supported in the workplace and able to perform to the very best of their ability.”

Paul said it was “disappointing” there was a disparity between forces in access to assessment.

“Some forces are setting the standard by recognising the benefit of prompt assessment to both individuals and the force,” he said.

“Some provide training and fund internal initial assessments to all new recruits as well as for those currently employed who make such a request.

“Some forces go on to fund external assessment and diagnosis so workplace adjustments can be made to improve performance.

“The Federation believes that all forces should follow this best practice. It’s unacceptable for some forces to be telling our members they must either pay hundreds of pounds for an assessment or wait several years for the NHS.”

Paul said the Federation had asked the National Police Chiefs’ Council to encourage forces to follow examples of best practice.

And he encouraged members in forces that weren’t delivering for neurodiverse colleagues to highlight it with their force and Federation branch.

He added: “We should all want every member of the team to have whatever reasonable adjustments they need so they can contribute fully.”