Leicestershire Police becomes first Force to sign the British Sign Language Charter

As part of International Week of the Deaf, Leicestershire Police became the first police force in the UK to sign the British Deaf Association’s Charter for British Sign Language (BSL).

Yesterday (Wednesday 24 September), Leicestershire Police invited members of the Deaf community, along with the Chair of the British Deaf Association, to witness the Force become the first police service to sign the charter.

The BSL Charter sets out four pledges to improve access and the rights of Deaf people. Leicestershire Police are now committed to the following pledges:

  • Ensure access for Deaf people to information and services
  • Promote learning and high quality teaching of British Sign Language
  • Ensure staff working with Deaf people can communicate effectively in British Sign Language
  • Consult with our local Deaf community on a regular basis

Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “We are proud to be the first police force to sign the BSL Charter. We have worked hard over the years to build strong relationships with the Deaf community and, whilst we are already delivering on the pledges, we hope that by signing this Charter we will show further commitment to supporting them.”

The Charter aims to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and further good relations with the Deaf communities within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The Force has developed its relationship with the Deaf communities across the city and county through its PLOD (Police Link Officers for the Deaf) scheme. The Force has 18 officers and staff who range from Level 1 (elementary) to Level 3 (advanced) and support the Deaf community by acting as a point of contact in a variety of incidents or for community issues.

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Sir Clive Loader, visited the Leicester Deaf Action Group with PLOD on Monday 22 September. Some members of the Deaf community meet at the Monday ‘Open House’ session to chat and get the opportunity to speak informally, or formally, with a police officer who is BSL trained.

Sir Clive Loader said: “It is extremely important that we maintain a good relationship with the Deaf community. Providing a support for them through PLOD ensures that they aren’t excluded. In light of recent events in the city (the murder of Christopher Penman) it is vital that this community is given the chance to have their say and feel that they are supported.

“During the session I met with a young Deaf girl who we are hoping will join the Youth Commission to represent this community.”

Dr Terry Riley OBE, Chair of the British Deaf Association, said: “I commend Leicestershire Police for being committed to ensuring the legal rights for all Deaf and hard of hearing people, especially at every stage of the caution and arrest process.

“This is impressive at a time of austerity when so many public bodies are cutting back on services with a disproportionate impact on the most disadvantaged sections of the community, including Deaf people.”

Article extracted from: Leicestershire Police website – issued on 25/9/14 at 9:30 a.m.