Hertfordshire Constabulary has been named a Disability Confident Leader by the Department of Work and Pensions in recognition of their efforts to create an equal and inclusive working environment for all their employees.
The Disability Confident Leader status was jointly awarded this month to Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire (BCH) police forces by the government’s Disability Confident employers’ scheme which helps organisations employ and retain people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
National accreditation is based on three levels and each must be attained before moving on to the next. Disability Confident Leader is the highest level of accreditation that can be achieved.
Acting Assistant Chief Constable David Boyle is chair of the three forces’ Disability Confident group where issues are discussed and best practice shared. He said: ‘It is a fantastic achievement that the three forces have been recognised as Disability Confident Leaders. Equality, diversity and inclusion are central to everything we do. It is in the very fabric of policing and I am proud to work with such passionate colleagues who are doing all they can to ensure people with disabilities and long-term health conditions feel able to pursue a career with the police.
‘With almost a fifth of working age adults reporting that they had a disability in 2019-2020, it is important that employers make themselves as accessible, inclusive and supportive as possible.’ Acting ACC Boyle added: ‘A significant proportion of working age adults identify as having a disability or long-term health condition. It is vital therefore that these people do not feel disadvantaged and have access to the same opportunities as everyone else to fulfil their potential at work.
‘We want them to see a career with the police as a natural move and to feel comfortable applying for these roles, knowing ongoing support is in place once they are in post. Their voices are valued and enrich the diversity of our workforce.’
Across BCH, neurodiversity champions have recently been introduced to promote awareness of, and support for, health conditions such as autism and ADHD. Dyslexia assessments and follow-up support for all officers and staff were also introduced earlier this year.
The importance of inclusivity and equality extends far beyond the workplace and Hertfordshire Constabulary has also been actively involved in a range of initiatives that support those with disabilities and long-term health conditions in the wider community.
For example, the force has supported schools through a Mini Police Scheme which teaches young people about valuing difference and culture. Hertfordshire Constabulary has also trained front line and public contact colleagues with awareness training around neurodiversity and has promoted to colleagues the use of Autism Alert cards which people with autism may carry to help communicate their needs. These cards typically include their details and advice for the person they are communicating with.
Through the use of the ‘Echo’ survey tool the force seeks feedback from victims of hate crime, asking them to report feedback on their interaction with police and the investigation of their crime. The aim is to learn from this and find ways to improve the force’s service to the public.
The force’s positive action recruiting team recently ran roadshows with other forces to encourage people with disabilities or health conditions to find out how they can join the force.
In addition, police officers across BCH now have rapid access to British Sign Language interpreters via their mobile phones if they need to communicate with a member of the public who is deaf or hard of hearing.
Following accreditation, BCH will continue to explore opportunities and seek ongoing feedback from colleagues to further promote inclusivity, diversity and equality. The forces will also mentor other organisations who are seeking to gain Disability Confident accreditation.
Hertfordshire Constabulary is committed to tackling discrimination in all its forms. If anyone has been a victim of hate crime please call 101 or 999 in an emergency.