Thames Valley Police (TVP) has launched an Autism Alert Card scheme in Buckinghamshire, to help break down barriers to communicating with people who have autism.
Building on a successful pilot scheme in Berkshire, TVP and Autism Berkshire are rolling out Autism Alert Cards across Bucks from today, Monday, September 13.
The cards give the holder, or their parent or carer, the chance to easily explain their condition to others. Cards could include information about the best ways to communicate effectively, or contact details for someone who can help if required. People who sign up can also choose to share their details voluntarily with police.
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The information is securely stored on TVP’s computer systems, allowing officers to be aware of how best to communicate with the person if they have reason to do so.
Autism Alert Cards were launched in 2010 by Autism Berkshire to provide a simple way for autistic people of all ages, and their parents or carers, to quickly and easily explain the condition to others, giving cardholders and their families more confidence to go out and about.
In March this year, cardholders in Berkshire were invited to share information about their autism with Thames Valley Police to improve communication between the police and autistic people.
The success of this pilot has led to their rollout across Buckinghamshire from today.
Leading the project, PC Lucie Gray, of the force’s Autism Support Network, said: “We recognise that some people who are autistic may have specific needs which we may need to accommodate when they have a reason to contact us.
“An autistic person can choose to share their information about how they may act in a certain situation with police, which is a positive step towards ensuring we can have the most meaningful interaction. This helps to break down barriers to communication and assists us in being able to provide the best possible service.
“We are delighted to be working with Autism Berkshire and thank them for their support in helping us to meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve.”
Thames Valley Police also plans to roll out the scheme to autistic people living in Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes.
Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Buckinghamshire Council is pleased to be part of this initiative to support people with autism.
"It is of utmost importance that people with autism are treated fairly and with respect in every aspect of their lives.
"It is not about treating them differently but simply about generating a better understanding of each individual and their needs.
"We will be spreading the news of this initiative with all our families and partners and encouraging as many people to sign up as possible.”
Jane Stanford-Beale, chief executive Officer for Autism Berkshire, said: "After successfully running an Autism Alert Card scheme in Berkshire since 2010, we are delighted to now be able to improve it and expand coverage in conjunction with Thames Valley Police, Buckinghamshire Council and other local partners."
Find out more about the Thames Velley Autism Alert Scheme and apply for a free card on the Autism Berkshire website.