Posted on 3rd June 2014
Derbyshire Constabulary has earned top recognition for its commitment to communicating with the county’s deaf or hard of hearing population.
The constabulary received a national ‘Louder than Words’ charter mark after passing a rigorous set of standards from Action on Hearing Loss, and is the only police force in the country to achieve it.
The charter has ten standards which must be met, including staff training, clear information for deaf people, deaf awareness policies for staff and meeting requests for communication.
Derbyshire has the highest proportion of deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK and the constabulary has strived to meet the needs of those affected by hearing loss.
As well as becoming the country’s only police force to earn the charter mark, Derbyshire Constabulary has also produced a video in British Sign Language, which details the variety of ways deaf people can get in touch with or receive information from police.
The constabulary’s website has also been revamped to include more information for people with hearing loss.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Knighton said: “I'm really pleased that the force has again been awarded the Louder than Words charter mark.
“Our commitment is to provide a high quality policing service to everyone in Derbyshire. I hope that the award of the charter mark helps to give people from the deaf and hard of hearing community the confidence that if they do need to contact us we will be well-prepared to give them a top quality service.”
Derbyshire Constabulary has previously been awarded the Louder than Words charter mark, which is re-assessed every three years.
The ten standards also include making officers and members of the public aware of the Text Relay service; having well-maintained hearing aid equipment; and consulting with the public and staff about the service provided.
Action on Hearing Loss, the national organisation dedicated to supporting people with deafness or hearing loss, renewed the charter mark after evaluating the force’s policies earlier this year.
Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Charles, said: “It’s so important that we make every effort to help people to access the police easily, whatever the difficulties.
“There is always more we can do and I’ve personally met members of the deaf and hard of hearing community to see what they feel works well and where we can improve.
“This charter mark illustrates how seriously we take our commitment to helping people communicate with us and is a credit to the force.”
Henry Skinner, from Action on Hearing Loss, said: "I have been involved with the group meetings and not only they have provided services that are accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing people. They were willing to look for new ideas and ways to improve their services which I believe will grow from strength to strength."
John O'Brien, director of services at Hearing Help, added: "So much hard work has been undertaken to achieve this award, including producing special videos and leaflets in British Sign Language. Derbyshire is the only force in the country to have earned this hard-to-achieve accolade.
"Derbyshire Constabulary has always strived to offer the best access to services possible to the deaf and hard of hearing, and this wonderful achievement will serve to strengthen this access and encourage even greater confidence in the force."
To find out more about how Derbyshire police cater for the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and to view a video using BSL, visit www.derbyshire.police.uk.