In an attempt to give their student officers a better understanding of people with autism, Sussex Police have been working closely with the team at Hollyrood, one of our Autism Spectrum Partners Services in Sussex, to train them alongside staff at the service.

Earlier this year, Student Officer Richard Davies spent two weeks at Hollyrood learning about people on the autistic spectrum and how to address, support and assist them. “Over the course of the two weeks I was fortunate enough to work with a lot of different service users whose abilities were wide ranging. I have been pleased with the information that I have got back and glad Sussex [Police] are taking a positive stand on how to assist people with autism”.

The placement at Hollyrood involves the student officers shadowing and learning about the different facilities available and getting to know the service users and their needs. This process helps to equip them to assist members of the public with similar needs. Jane Carter from Sussex Police explains that

We have chosen a wide variety of community organisations and services to which we can send student officers so that their policing style can be informed by the needs of everyone in their community.

Cat Hogan, Activities Coordinator for Hollyrood is confident the scheme is worthwhile for all involved. “The police do not get specific training for dealing with mental health and disabilities within the community, so having two weeks at Hollyrood helps start this discussion for them to develop their own practice now and in the future”.

Hollyrood is a residential and day centre providing services for people with autism, and is run through The Disabilities Trust's Autism services. Hollyrood provides support and accommodation for 25 adults, aged over 18, who have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, or have autistic tendencies. We also support individuals with behaviours that might challenge alternative services and those with epilepsy.

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