Tag Archives: police

My advice to anyone with a hidden impairment

Alex has worked for West Yorkshire Police since 2006, where she first joined as a Police Community Support Officer. She was diagnosed with Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia in 2014. Alex is involved with the Positive Role Model Programme, a West Yorkshire Police initiative to encourage more people to be open about disability. The message is “It’s okay to be you” and in this blog, Alex shares her story.

Before joining the Police I had lots of ideas of what I wanted to do as a career, but I never seemed to be able to focus on any one single pathway.  I struggled at school in all things academic, especially Maths, but nothing was ever flagged up.

Hidden impairments were not really known about in mainstream schooling. I think it was partially due to excelling in my social abilities. My reports always said ‘Alex is a cheerful, chatty person, a delight to have in class, very sociable’, coupled with ‘but she could try a little harder, she needs to concentrate more’.

When I was diagnosed a massive weight was lifted

When I was diagnosed in 2014 with Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia a massive weight was lifted. I am not stupid, I do not need to concentrate more. I am already concentrating much more than most people on the simplest of tasks. I also realised I had to stay away from anything to do with numbers if I wanted a stress free life.

I once had a job as an Assistant Manager of a high street shop. Most of the time I was good at it until it came to cashing up the tills at night – nightmare! It was so stressful and I assumed I must be really stupid to get things wrong time after time. Thankfully, my personality has always kept me going even if sometimes I feel I am going to crack. Now that I know I have Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia I can give myself a bit of a break from being ultra-hard on myself and ultra-critical of my mistakes.

Alex laughing, with a park in the background

Fighting to succeed

In a way, not being diagnosed earlier made me the person I am today who works hard to achieve everything I want at work and at home. I am driven, confident and sorely honest with myself. My conditions do not disable me but they do challenge me and I am up for a challenge in any form. It is this drive to succeed at everything I do that keeps me fighting to stay at work.

In my 11 years in the Police, I’ve had several roles and I am currently in a dream position at the Regional Scientific Support Service, training to become a Fingerprint Identification Officer. This is my biggest challenge to date and my Dyspraxia is really putting up a fight with the capabilities required for the position. But I have had this battle before and it hasn’t stopped me succeeding!

We need to think about reasonable adjustments

The assessment did get me thinking: why make a person with Dyscalculia (someone with no natural ability with numbers) do a Maths based test? Is that not setting them up to potentially fail? I fully acknowledge the need to assess people’s skills and resilience – especially in jobs like the Police – but I feel the current methods of assessment do not match our modern day understanding of disability. I think assessments could be more reasonably adjusted – impairments are much more complex than requiring a bit of extra time.

I think the recruitment process has moved forward with the introduction of a presentation as it’s another means of demonstrating a specific skill. These are much more relevant than demonstrating you can work out percentages.

Woman smiling inside an office

My advice for anyone with a hidden impairment

Some people feel like they want to hide the fact they have an impairment but I almost want to shout it from the rooftops. It validates me, my quirks and my frustrations. It means that people know to give me that little extra time and patience and afford me the right to get things wrong more often than is considered ‘normal’.

I would say to anyone with a hidden impairment: be open, be honest, be confident, be adaptable! Life is challenging enough without a hidden impairment and in coping with both you already have one up on the rest of them.

If you have a story you would like to share, get in touch with the stories team.

Read more experiences of having a hidden impairment.

Making the UK’s 999 system more accessible

Guest blog from Chris Channon, founder of Pegasus. On Monday Chris received an award from the Home Office for his work on Pegasus.

I have cerebral palsy and have lived independently in the community for over 30 years. During this time I’ve needed to call 999 on several occasions, often to report anti-social behaviour, but my calls were not always dealt with properly because I’m speech-impaired. I either couldn’t say what I needed to say or I was mistaken for a nuisance caller.

When I asked what was available to assist me to make these calls, the only options were to use TypeTalk or Textphone services. Neither of these were of any use because of my dexterity problems. So I came up with my own solution to the problem – Pegasus.

The Pegasus database

People who, like me, find it difficult to give this information using spoken word in a time of crisis can register their details on the Pegasus database. This can include names, addresses and other information which could be useful in an emergency.

They are then issued with a Personal Identification Number (PIN). To use the system, a person has to say Pegasus (or something that sounds similar) and their PIN. The emergency call operator will then immediately have access to the individual’s information and can quickly get on with dealing with the situation. The Pegasus PIN can also be shown or told to a police officer or other emergency service personnel when help is needed person to person. Pegasus is available for use in this way by those who are unable to use a phone.

The information on the database is not used for any other purpose other than assisting the individual.

Pegasus in Nottinghamshire

I started working with Nottinghamshire Police in 2005 on Pegasus and the scheme went live in April 2008. We now have over 500 people registered in Nottinghamshire and the control room receives about 15 calls a month from people using Pegasus reporting crimes and incidents.

Users include people with learning and physical disabilities, deaf people – who use it via the textphone service, those with mental health issues and elderly people.

We conducted a survey of users and 80% reported that Pegasus improved their confidence in calling 999. They also shared their thoughts on the system:

“I was impressed with how quickly somebody arrived, I found it easy to contact and report my incident.”

“Since being a member of Pegasus I now feel someone is at my hand when I need help. I am in my late eighties, almost housebound; Pegasus is always there – thank you.”

Plans for the future

Pegasus is now in use by:

There are two other police forces looking at the possibility of adopting Pegasus in their areas.

If you wish to register with Pegasus that’s currently operating in your area, please contact – or get someone to do so on your behalf – your local police force.

If Pegasus is NOT running in your area, ask – or get someone to ask on your behalf – your local police force what they intend to do to make their 999 call system more accessible.

It has been without doubt the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life and it’s only now after almost 10 years of work that people are beginning to see its value.

Watch a report on ITV News about Pegasus.