Christchurch charity Autism Unlimited gives specialist training to Dorset Police custody visitors
A CHRISTCHURCH-based charity has provided specialist training to Dorset Police custody visitors to raise awareness of autism and its traits.
Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) – trained volunteers who check the rights and welfare of those in police custody are observed – received tuition from Autism Unlimited at the the charity’s Parley headquarters.
The organisation aims to help serve the needs of people with the neurological disorder, that can affect how people communicate and engage.
Dorset Independent Custody Visiting Scheme deputy chair Garry French extolled the benefits of the Understanding Autism course.
“Being able to identify autistic traits will better enable us to ensure that people’s rights and welfare are properly observed, and that is very important,” he said.
People with autism may feel overwhelmed when meeting unfamiliar people or when entering public areas which are loud, busy or new to them - characteristics common in custody suites.
Former Dorset Police custody inspector Rachel Goodwin works as a staff officer for the office of the police and crime commissioner.
She said: “I have been lucky to have neuro-diversity training over the years and a close family member is also autistic, so I am aware of the many additional difficulties autistic people might face when coming into custody, like being in handcuffs, the echoey atmosphere, bright lighting and the uncomfortable feel of anti-rip clothing and bedding, for example.
“I think the training from Autism Unlimited is both valuable and very welcome, especially for the voluntary sector, and I would like to see as many organisations as possible take it up.”
The charity has also launched two other courses designed and built in conjunction with its autistic community: Signalong Foundation and Signalong Essential Vocabulary.
ICVs, who are appointed by the police and crime commissioner’s office, make unannounced visits to custody suites and report their findings. Alongside the ‘use of police powers and standards scrutiny panel’, they hold the force accountable for procedures.
For more information visit autism-unlimited.org/support/training or call 01202 483360 (option 2).