Northamptonshire police officers learning sign language to improve communication with deaf people

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A group of Northamptonshire police officers are learning sign language, to help improve how they communicate with deaf people.

A total of 16 officers have signed up to the 36-week British Sign Language (BSL) course, which is being run, this academic year.

The course is undertaken by frontline officers, including those in safer community teams, CID officer and PCSOs.

The course is geared to give officers essential skills and knowledge of sign language but also tailored to officers’ needs. The course is accredited British Sign Language and all officers participating will be trained to BSL Levels 1 and 2. This will enable them to hold basic conversation with the deaf members of our community and further improve communication and engagement.

Inspector Inam Khan, the Equality and Diversity Manager, said: “It’s great that our officers are undertaking this course and actively taking steps to reach out to some of the vulnerable members of our communities.

“Having officers who can sign will help to build trust and strengthen relationships with our deaf communities. Crucially, it will help when officers attend incidents or engage with the deaf community.”

Last year, Northamptonshire Police became the first force in the country to offer a BSL interpretation service for non-emergencies. Through this service, a BSL User can connect to a BSL Interpreter at Sign Video via video calling, using a link on the Contact pages of the police website.

The BSL Interpreter will telephone the Force Control Room (FCR) and relay the information provided to them by the BSL User and vice versa.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing can also report non-urgent incidents or make non-urgent enquiries via text message. The Force Communications Centre will also respond via SMS text message.