In the RGP Training School, the current class of police recruits is being made aware of the various conditions that fall under the heading of ‘neurodiversity’.
The underlying idea of this training is that, when carrying out their duties, officers may sometimes interact with people with conditions such as ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), Dyslexia, ADHD, or Tourette’s. A recent study found that, in the UK, as many as 1% of the population have ASD.
It was emphasised to recruits that some of these neurodivergent people may be highly talented – they just see the world around them in a different way.
Recruits also learned that neurodivergent people may display a wide array of behaviours resulting from their condition and that there is no easy guide on how to recognise these at first glance.
In their training session, the recruits were asked to consider different ways of interacting with neurodivergent people and to consider when special measures might be appropriate when dealing with them as victims, witnesses, or offenders. In a wide-ranging discussion, the recruits were asked to consider alternative methods of communication and ways of providing any extra reassurance necessary if such a person needed to be brought to New Mole House.
In some police forces in UK, neurodivergent people are issued with ‘alert cards’ that give their basic information – and their condition – which they can show to any police officer with whom they have contact which is an idea that may be trialled here on the Rock. The recruits agreed that interacting with a neurodivergent person would usually require extra time and patience on their part. It was also agreed that there could never be a ‘One Size Fits All’ approach.
The course instructor was PC Darrell Alman, who is a qualified teacher. Before returning to Gibraltar, Darrell regularly taught a class of autistic children in Reading, Berkshire, and he has also taught in the Alternative Learning Centre at Westside School. Away from his police duties, he regularly works closely with Gibraltar’s young neurodiverse community in subjects such as music, art and sensory learning.
Darrell said, “The aim of this training is to equip Police officers with the right awareness to enable them to interact with neurodivergent persons who they may come across in the course of their duties. I know that we will shortly introduce ‘Dementia Awareness’ into our Continuous Professional Development sessions so I hope we can add ‘Neurodiversity Awareness’ as well.’