POLICE and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer spoke to representatives from Cheshire Deafness Support Network (DSN) at their recent Open Day in Chester, to understand the barriers the deaf community face when interacting with the police.
The Commissioner was told about how having a hearing impairment or being deaf doesn’t mean that two people have the same disability or need the same level of support.
A common misconception people have when trying to talk to deaf people is that it’s fine to just write something down. This is wrong because British Sign Language (BSL) and English are two separate languages, and in the case of policing, some ‘police speak’ simply doesn’t translate to BSL for the many deaf people who don’t read written English.
John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “We don’t accept a language barrier when people interact with the police in any other scenario, but people with hearing impairments are often forgotten and we need to do better across society as a whole to ensure they are included.”
In police custody suites, interpreters are available to those who have a hearing impairment or who are deaf, to help them communicate with officers and understand the person’s needs.
John Dwyer added: “Currently, interpreters are sourced from a national pool and aren’t always present in the room, so can’t effectively assess a person’s needs and whether they understand what is being communicated.
“I am committed to doing all I can to ensure that all deaf and hearing impaired people in Cheshire are able to access the resources they need to help them during their interactions with the police.”
More information about the Deafness Support Network is available here: Support For Deafness and Visual Impairment in Northwest England | DSN (dsnonline.co.uk)