Derbyshire has the highest number of Deaf or people with hearing loss living and working here than anywhere else in the country, proportionate to our population. It is important that we support our Deaf community and staff.
Derbyshire Constabulary is committed to improving access to the services we offer for people with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
To this end, the force has enacted three initiatives to support this community.
Louder Than Words charter
In 2008 we achieved and have since maintained the Louder than Words Charter.
This is a nationally-recognised accreditation awarded to deaf-friendly organisations. Derbyshire were proud to be the first police service to gain this achievement.
The EDI Unit take responsibility for collating the required evidence which focuses on our accessibility, both to our staff and to those to who use our services. We receive excellent feedback from the external independent company who carry out the assessment, along with an action plan for continually making improvements.
This accreditation continues to be important to the organisation as we have such a high proportion of people within the county who are affected by hearing loss and deafness. This level of commitment ensures that we’re delivering a high-quality policing service; and promoting positive policing and engaging with communities.
The Charter has ten standards to complete:
Train staff to communicate with customers
Have clear and visible deaf-aware policies
Provide clear information about your products and services
Use appropriate equipment and maintain it correctly
Create a good listening environment
Produce and follow clear health and safety procedures
Meet requests for communication support whenever requested
Offer a range of contact methods and be comfortable using them
Consult customers and staff
Be open about your employment practices
The Charter is evidenced annually with re-audit visits every three years from Action on Hearing Loss.
Police Link Officers for the Deaf (PLOD)
Derbyshire is committed to ensure it has specially-trained officers, called PLOD officers, who can help bridge the communications gap between the force’s services and the Deaf community.
Deaf people can be very vulnerable and isolated because of language and communication barriers.
Deaf people who use British Sign Language as their first language may not know how to report things to the police or how to complain, and may have limited understanding of some police initiatives such as counter corruption, sexual and domestic violence and the difference between emergencies and non-emergencies.
One example of limited understanding in the community is hate crime. The British Deaf Association conducted an interview with 100 Deaf people in 2017 and they were asked if they knew what hate crime was, and they all said no. When hate crime was described to them, practically all of them said they had experienced a hate crime, when they were further asked if they had reported it, they all said no.
Derbyshire Constabulary has a commitment to training those officers interested in becoming Police Link Officers for people who are Deaf hard of hearing or Deaf with sight loss – otherwise known as PLOD.
How a PLOD officer can assist
PLOD officers use their skills in providing a service for non-emergency situations when communication support is required, such as:
Providing assistance at a front enquiry desk at a police station
Assisting in the custody area whilst waiting for the services of an interpreter
Offering communication support and advice at a scene of a crime
A PLOD officer does not replace a professional qualified (NRCPD) interpreter.
Whilst they may hold qualifications in British Sign Language they do not provide any interpreting for cases involving evidential procedures such as taking a statement or interviewing.
A PLOD officer is to support the officer in the case not to replace the officer in the case.
PLOD officers are not available 24/7 but they can be utilised if available.
If appointments are being made a qualified interpreter should be booked in the usual way.
Further information about how the deaf community can access our services can be found here
Derbyshire Police Deaf Advisory Group
The Police Deaf Advisory group was set up to help support Derbyshire Constabulary to ensure the needs of the Deaf community are considered.
The group meets at least three times a year and offers the force advice and support to enable it to improve our service delivery and progress our understanding of Derbyshire’s Deaf community.
If you would like further information on this group please email the Inclusion Team