The communicative needs of intellectually disabled people - a protocol for police officers

Criminology Research Council grant ; (25/92-3)

There are two levels at which police can respond to the communication needs of people with an intellectual disability. The first is to recognise the basic needs of all people in situations which depend on clear communication. The second is to acknowledge the adaptations necessary in individual cases to ensure these common needs are met.

The materials seek to develop a sensitivity to the communicative demands of a situation, and are a direct response to the knowledge that many people with an intellectual disability do not have adequate opportunity to say or express what they might.

From the point of view of police work, the best results flow from collecting and recording the most complete and detailed account of an event. Efficient, fair and effective police work depend to a large extent on establishing principles and practices of communication that admit the needs of all parties.

Training police to recognise, and then more effectively communicate with, people with an intellectual disability is a political activity in that it possibly reorganises relationships and activities within the society. It has implications for the entire criminal justice system.