13 July 2021

New guide to help police improve how they deal with people with a disability

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Police

ACT Policing says the new guide will be a further aid to frontline police. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT’s police officers will soon have a new guide to help them better interact with people with a disability.

NOUS Group has been contracted to develop the Best Practice Guide, which must include material to assist police across all operations and include practical advice on when and how to adjust their responses.

An ACT Government spokesperson said the guide was one of the commitments of the First Action Plan 2019-2023 for the 10-year Disability Justice Strategy, which was developed based on feedback, research and community input.

“ACT Policing was one of many partners and organisations that contributed to the development of the Disability Justice Strategy and is committed to achieving the actions set out in the strategy, including the development of the best practice guide,” the spokesperson said.

The guide would be developed with ACT Policing and based on a review of best practice and engagement with relevant stakeholders, particularly people with disability.

An ACT Policing spokesperson said police regularly dealt with people who have a range of issues and needs.

“In the vast majority of cases, these interactions are suitable for the citizen. We recognise, however, that a best practice guide that is practical, easy to understand and enduring would be a further aid to frontline police.”

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The spokesman added that while police did not have such a guide at present, they did undertake training specific to understand neuro-diverse people.

“We look forward to working with the consultants in the coming months to develop this important document. It will aid interactions between police and those members of our community who have unique needs as a result of their disability.”

Advocacy for Inclusion incorporating People with Disability ACT welcomed the development of a best practice guide to assist police.

Spokesperson Carla Millner-Bradley said the organisation hopes to see a strong commitment to codesign to ensure the guide accurately reflects the experiences of people with disability and delivers effective solutions and outcomes for our community.

“As a leading Disabled People’s Organisation, we would be pleased to have the opportunity to support the development of the guide.”

Neither the government nor police and Advocacy for Inclusion would provide details of any specific incidents.

NOUS will review current evidence, literature and practices in other jurisdictions, and consider the experiences of ACT police, community stakeholders and advocacy organisations.

The best practice guide must be practical at an operational level, with clear guidelines and case studies.

NOUS will interview police and conduct workshops with ACT Policing, service providers, advocacy organisations, academic researchers and people with a disability.

ACT Policing and stakeholders will review the draft guide and comment before it is finalised and tested in 2022.

The 10-month contract runs until 31 March 2022, and NOUS is being paid almost $170,000.

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Elizabeth Monarch5:37 pm 15 Jul 21

Agreed.

Elizabeth Monarch6:29 pm 15 Jul 21

I agree with Trish and Gail.

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