Help & Advice17th December 2014
Hampshire Police PLOD Reaching Into Deaf Community
Recognising the need for specific communication, PLODs are bridging the gap
At different points in our lives, we all need our public services. Health, Fire, Police and lots of other organisations are essential to our well-being. Sadly, the historical experience for many deaf people is that our public services are not easily accessible and on many occasions, our use of the service has been limited to getting the absolute minimum achieved because anything more was just too difficult.
I am pleased to say that in some quarters that is changing, with improved deaf awareness and the introduction in some areas of deaf friendly practices. With the Fire Service this has included the offer of home safety assessments and the issue of deaf friendly devices to improve safety. In policing terms, development has come in the introduction of PLOD, or Police Link Officers for the Deaf, to use its full description.
In areas like Hampshire, it was seen as important to introduce PLOD as far back as 1999, so it might come as a surprise to learn that some police force areas still don’t have them. Imperfect at the start, Hampshire Police have continued to fine-tune their specialist offer to the deaf community, and the introduction of their Facebook page has opened up an excellent avenue to easily share advice and information to deaf people.
In some areas, the PLOD teams include police officers who have passed their Level 1 or Level 2 BSL. However, meeting Sergeant Gabe Snuggs from the Hampshire PLOD during Deaf Day at City Lit, I was really impressed by his BSL skills, the Sergeant qualified to Level 6. Looking at some of the video’s produced by his colleague, Sergeant Glen Barham, he provides information using a high level of skill in sign language.
Now 15 years old, The Hampshire PLOD seek to promote, enable and deliver accessible service and to ensure that deaf people are a part (included) of the community and not apart (separate) from the community. They seek to provide improved access to the police by Deaf, deafblind, deafened and hard f hearing people throughout Hampshire and the Isle of White.
Serious about opening better lines of contact for the deaf community, Hampshire Police promote the use of the Emergency SMS 999 and Minicom TextRelay 18000 services, as well as non-emergency SMS, Text Relay and fax lines of contact.
For information in British Sign Language (BSL) on how to contact Hamphire Police they have also provided an information video in BSL which you can find here
Despite their signing skills, Hampshire Police are keen to point out that the PLOD officers are not qualified interpreters. Their task is to use their skills to assist in enquiries, provide advice and information or gain early information about an incident. For evidential purposes, Hampshire Police engage the services of independent qualified interpreters and lipspeakers.
PLOD officers engage with the local Deaf community on a regular basis including going to Deaf Clubs in their area. Whilst the Facebook page is not monitored 24/7, member of the public or encouraged to ask questions through that route. Pleasingly, even when a question is asked about a different policing area, the PLOD team answered the question rather than just referred them to someone else, which would be the more common practice.
The beauty of having police officers close to the deaf community is that they are able to identify their information needs and have the means to make that information available in suitable formats. This YouTube video about safety when using the hard shoulder of the motorway a good example of what they do.
It might be worth finding out if your local police force have PLODs, and if they do, how you can keep updated on their deaf friendly programme.
For deaf people living in Hampshire, the Hampshire PLOD can be contacted on email at: deaf.link@Hampshire.pnn.police.uk
A video in BSL about PLOD is available here
You can also follow them on:
Article by Sarah Lawrence
posted in Community / Help & Advice
17th December 2014