Alert cards issued in West Mercia to help police provide extra support to people with autism
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West Mercia Police is helping officers and staff provide an enhanced and more sensitive service to people affected by autism by supporting the rollout of Autism West Midlands’ Autism Alert Cards.
An Autism Alert Card helps autistic people disclose their autism to others when in difficult or emergency situations. The card has been produced by Autism West Midlands in collaboration with West Mercia Police, alongside forces in the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Warwickshire and British Transport Police.
The credit-card style card provides basic information about autism, the name of the card carrier and details of one or two emergency contacts.
When an autistic individual, either as victim or perpetrator, shows a police officer or another member of the emergency services the card, they are indicating that they are legally disabled under the Equality Act and may need extra support, extra time to process information given to them and if attending the police station, the support of an Appropriate Adult.
Hilary McGlynn, Operations Manager at Autism West Midlands, said: “Autism Alert Cards provide peace of mind for autistic young people and adults when out in the community and can help the individual and emergency workers communicate more effectively.”
The West Mercia Police Autism Network has secured funding for the first 200 Autism Alert Cards to be issued within the force area.
Sgt Zoey Carter, Chair for West Mercia Police Autism Network and West Mercia Police Lead Coordinator for the National Police Autism Association (NPAA) said: “I am so excited to help highlight autism within our force, helping to provide better service and support to people within our communities who are on the autism spectrum and their families.
“Alongside this, we are also issuing guidance to our officers and staff on what to do if they encounter an individual with autism, whether they have an alert card or not, setting out how the person may react in challenging situations where the emergency services are involved, what officers and staff can do to help and what actions to avoid escalating the situation.”
The Autism Alert Card is available to people across the West Midlands who are aged over 13 years and have a formal diagnosis of autism. Visit Autism West Midlands' website at www.autismwestmidlands.org.uk/home/alert-cards to find out more information and to apply for a card.
A downloadable card for parents and carers of children with autism is also available.