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A big step forward in the accessibility of the police service

Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 3,136

Scope community team

edited October 2020 in Disabled people

This week saw the launch of a new scheme to help visually impaired people identify police officers, following a campaign by a blind woman.

Tina Snow, from the Isle of Wight, was unable to see the warrant card produced by an officer at her home, and the officer had no other way of identifying himself.

Let's learn about the scheme

Hampshire, West Yorkshire and Thames Valley police have now launched the new scheme, known as the Visual Impairment Protocol, which will require officers to confirm a password decided by the sight impaired person before gaining entry to a property.

When a visually impaired person calls 101 or 999 and informs the call handler they have an impairment, a password of their choice is agreed upon and used by attending officers going forward whenever the specified property is visited.

The new scheme can be used by anyone with a visual impairment or their carers.

Tina Snow said: "Last year I had a police officer call at my door...unfortunately he did not have any braille ID on him. I let him in and I shouldn't have because I was taking a huge risk, as he could have been anybody."

Following this, she then approached Hampshire Constabulary and called for the system to be changed.

Assistant Chief Constable Craig Dibdin, of Hampshire police, said the force was working with local sight charities to improve the scheme, and that it is hoped that all 43 police forces across England and Wales will adopt the scheme in the future.

Why stop here? 

While this is a great step forward for the accessibility of the police service, it highlights the need for similar action to be taken across other sectors.

As a severely sight impaired individual, I feel a touch of nerves whenever I open the door to an unknown somebody requesting access to my residence. That could include police officers of course, but there are many other occasions where disabled people have to consider letting a stranger into their home,, like for metre readings, installing services like broadband, maintenance workers like plumbers and electricians, and of course the other emergency services.

  • What do you think of this scheme?
  • Do you think it could and should be extended to other sectors? 
  • How do you think the police force, and other services that require somebody to enter your home, could be made more accessible for all disabled people?
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