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A Buxton PCSO heads back to class to learn British Sign Language

Posted on 12th October 2016
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A Buxton PCSO is learning more about how to better communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

PCSO Rachael Blackley from the Buxton Town Safer Neighbourhood Team has recently enrolled on a British Sign Language course as part of the PLOD (Police link officers for people who are deaf) scheme.

The PLOD scheme consists of police officers and police staff who have received training in deaf awareness and are skilled in the use of British Sign Language (BSL) at different levels.

PLOD use their skills to provide communication support in non-emergency situations, such as assisting on the front enquiry desk or in the custody area, along with offering support and advice at crime scenes.

PCSO Blackley is one of the first PCSOs in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales to take on the training and will act as a friendly policing face to the Deaf Community in Buxton whilst out on patrol.

Rachael has completed the British Sign Language (BSL) beginner course and is currently building her skills by undertaking BSL Level 1. This includes learning basic BSL fingerspelling; lip reading and listening exercises, along with understanding how eye contact, good lighting, background noise and positioning are also factors to consider when communicating with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

PCSO Rachael Blackley from the Buxton Town Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “I really wanted to get involved with PLOD and begin to learn sign language so that I can better communicate with our residents who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“I am currently studying BSL Level 1 and it has already proved priceless. PCSO Linda Cook and I recently visited a group of students with learning disabilities at the University of Derby’s Buxton campus to offer safety advice. Some of the group communicated with sign language and it was a fantastic opportunity to test my new skills.

“My training as part of the PLOD scheme will allow me to use my skills in a number of situations including providing assistance, crime prevention advice and assisting in the custody area whilst waiting for a registered and qualified interpreter.”

Sergeant Denis Murphy from the Buxton Town Safer Neighbourhood Team added: “People who are deaf or hard of hearing are a group that can often be hard for the police to reach. Being deaf can make some individuals feel isolated and vulnerable so it’s important to let them know that we are working hard to improve our skills and help break down any barriers to help us to better communicate.

“Rachael’s commitment and determination has had a great response already from our local community and I am excited to see how this develops further in building strong and supportive relationships.”

Jane Birkin PLOD Manager said: “Rachael is one of thirteen highly committed people who are being trained across the county to be part of the PLOD service. We know this will make a real difference to our Deaf and hard of hearing communities. We are very pleased that we will have people such as Rachael in our more rural areas.”

To find out more about contacting the police if you are deaf or hard of hearing click  here

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