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Fedster

Many public services do not understand autism well enough'

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Fedster

MP says her legislation would see all policing given awareness training.

MP Ann Clwyd: Introduced Ten Minute Bill

MP Ann Clwyd: Introduced Ten Minute Bill

Date - 2nd May 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

 

Mandatory autism awareness training for all police officers will lead to a “better understanding” of the condition, MPs have been told.

Veteran parliamentarian Ann Clwyd is attempting to introduce new legislation she claims will lead to fewer "inappropriate prosecutions" and improve relations between officers and the more than 700,000 autistic people in the UK.

She delivered a Ten Minute Rule Motion Bill in the chamber, saying that 10 years on from the passing of the Autism Act 2009 some progress has been made, "but many public services do not understand autism enough".

But although the Police Officer Training (Autism Awareness) Bill passed its first hurdle – and is scheduled to return to the Commons later this month – without government backing it is highly unlikely to end up becoming law.

During the debate, the Labour MP raised the case of Daniel Smith, an autistic man who had been attacked in a Northamptonshire park in 2015 and ran to a police station for help, only for him to end up "handcuffed, locked up for many hours and charged with two assault charges".

He was later acquitted of any wrongdoing, but she added that it was a "terrifying and distressing ordeal" that could have been avoided if officers had been able to pick up on his condition.

The Cynon Valley MP – who has represented Cynon Valley in Westminster for 35 years – said: "Neither the interests of justice or autistic people themselves are served when there is no real understanding of their difficulties by officers."

The National Autistic Society revealed just 37 per cent of police had any autism training, but that 92 per cent said they would find it useful, she told MPs.

Ms Clwyd said without the training officers are "unlikely to understand the problems many autistic people face", and would be "unable to understand what it might be like to be accused and questioned".

She added: "Inappropriate prosecutions leading to incarcerations might be avoided if autism was better understood and recognised in the custody suite."

She also suggested people with autism could be "more willing to come forward to assist" police who had been trained to understand them better.

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ParochialYokal

Cases where those whom have autism have an adverse interaction with police are often typified by younger men in the mid teens to mid twenties.

But there is also a trend of older, single men living on estates or in a working class environment whom get rejected by the local community and are written off by the police for being ‘obnoxious’ whom are often autism sufferers.

It says more about how vulnerable men are viewed and tolerate by society.

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SimonT

Does this justify training across the board for all police? 

What about social workers, council staff, court services, judges and mp's? 

Or are we, as ever, the gateway to all social interactions. I'm not saying there are no issues, but on the list of issues, there is a pretty big heap above this one. 

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Zulu 22
14 hours ago, ParochialYokal said:

Cases where those whom have autism have an adverse interaction with police are often typified by younger men in the mid teens to mid twenties.

But there is also a trend of older, single men living on estates or in a working class environment whom get rejected by the local community and are written off by the police for being ‘obnoxious’ whom are often autism sufferers.

It says more about how vulnerable men are viewed and tolerate by society.

It can also be a convenient excuse for indiscipline. Just saying.

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Cathedral Bobby
Posted (edited)
Just now, Zulu 22 said:

It can also be a convenient excuse for indiscipline. Just saying.

Autism is pervasive, it affects most areas of development. But the autistic spectrum is wide from classic autism to high functioning aspergers. There are many people diagnosed with ADHD is childhood but later found to have aspergers or Psychopathy/Sociopathiy disorders. Given many Psychiatrists got it wrong, chances of police officers being able to spot some of the nuances is pretty unlikely. Whether an individual doesn't fully understand the semantic/pragmatic elements of language or society because of autism or they just don't care because they are devoid of feelings for anyone and have a narcissistic view of the world will be hard for any cop to determine. As I said it takes Psychiatrists years of assessment so what chance does a cop have in a single interaction event.

Edited by Cathedral Bobby
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obsidian_eclipse

I do agree that it is useful to have some knowledge surrounding conditions which may affect people's ability to effectively communicate and be understood. However it is very difficult to envision the extent of the effect of training when it covers such a broad spectrum. We often encounter people for very brief periods of time under circumstances which can make interacting with the most grounded and average of individuals challenging, factoring in mental health conditions and other issues create a very complicated model of assesment for which there can be very little time or in some situations relevance to the occurrence at hand. If someone is behaving in a way which presents significant harm or danger to themselves or others and it is necessary to act quickly to prevent then it's a luxury we cannot afford to go through a diagnostic list of possible factors, we just don't have the expertise to undertake.

 

I have a suspicion that a lot of the material we are subject to these days arrives as a backside covering exercise rather than a legitimate attempt to reduce a problem, even if it can or cannot be reduced effectively. The problem is we can become saturated with conflicting training to cover so many different scenarios that it becomes a hindrance. However it is possible upon reflection and when all the information can be presented in a orderly fashion, after the affect, to say that 'this' is how it should have been approached and officers have all been trained in x, y or z. It is similar in some situations to trying micromanage overly complex and dynamic environments, of which the outside world and it's billions of different human beings couldn't be any more abstract.

 

We need to be careful as to how much we take on board. Understanding different health conditions and gaining knowledge about them does help us to do our jobs effectively, this has to be in balance and proportional to what we do. For instance whilst there is a high necessity for us all to undertake officer safety training due to the threat we face we couldn't send all officers to study the intricacies of martial arts in Japan. Whilst the first aid kit is perhaps the second most used piece of equipment on my belt it would be near impossible to train us as doctors, psychologists or paramedics despite how useful this could be. Because a proportion of the population is deaf and although id personally really really really like to become fluent in BSL doesn't mean that we all should.

 

 

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David

I think we can all accept there could be a greater understanding of mental health/mental issues, at the same time though we can't not go in and arrest or deal with the situation as we need to, based on the circumstances, because the suspect might be autistic or have mental issues. If a violent suspect needs arresting, they need arresting, and if reasonable force has to be used, then so be it.

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skydiver

'The general public' don't understand autism enough would be a more suitable headline as the current one makes it sound like the public sector is somewhat unique in not understanding the issue.

I'm sure that Clywd isn't advocating a carte blanche exemption for prosecution for autistic people, but I wonder what she would suggest we do when confronted by an agitated person who has just stolen something, or broken a window or assaulted someone, only to find out that they are autistic.  We often don't have the luxury of knowing about a person's personal issues when dealing with them at an incident or even as a handover. 

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Lone Wolf

Sounds like a lot of typical political bluster to me.

If the behaviour that is presented by an autistic person necessitates a certain level of police response and action, I can't see how that will change based on wider training.  This is especially so when interactions will inevitably be more likely during periods of crisis and there is no time to dwell on the hows and whys because decisive action is needed.  The wider public still deserve the same level of service too, without making it all about the individual.

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David

Ah @Lonewolf I fear you are missing the point of the article. As much as I support a better understanding, this is the real world and if anyone, anyone, is being violent or resisting arrest, then it needs dealing with in they way the police would under any similar circumstances. Thus, I wonder if this is another dig at the police for arresting  violent offenders who is an unfortunate and that the police should have understood him better and turning public sympathy further away from the police.

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