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NAS and North Yorkshire Police launch Autism alert card

[Tuesday 26 August 2008]
Autism Alert Card launch Group
L-R: Rosie Qureshi (Head of Diversity, North Yorkshire
Police), Alan Bicknell (National Autistic Society),
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Bagshaw,
Heidi Shepherd (NAS Area Manager)

North Yorkshire Police have joined forces with the National Autistic Society (NAS) to promote a new card that alerts members of the emergency services and the criminal justice system to someone who has an autism spectrum condition.

The card was launched on Friday 22 August 2008 at the Police Headquarters at an event hosted by Assistant Chief Constable Peter Bagshaw, the force’s strategic lead on Diversity.

The guest speakers were Alan Bicknell, NAS Head of Support Programmes, and NAS Area Manager Heidi Shepherd. Mr Bagshaw said: “We are very pleased to be able to support this initiative. It is vital that all members of the community feel comfortable and confident when they come into contact with North Yorkshire Police, other emergency services and the wider criminal justice system.

“Our officers need to be particularly aware of the challenges facing people who have an autism spectrum disorder so that any difficulties in communication are not misinterpreted.”

Our officers need to be particularly aware of the challenges facing people who have an autism spectrum disorder so that any difficulties in communication are not misinterpreted.”

Peter Bagshaw - North Yorkshire Police

Alan Bicknell added: “I am thrilled that North Yorkshire Police are taking such an active interest in the autism community. The NAS is regularly made aware of people with autism who have ended up in the criminal justice system when some knowledge amongst professionals could easily have avoided this.

“Carrying an Autism Alert Card will make people aware that they have the condition, and the training that we are providing to North Yorkshire Police should help officers to know how to deal with someone who has the condition, reduce their anxiety and prevent the situation getting out of control. We hope that other police authorities will follow suit.“

The card is available to anyone in North Yorkshire who has a condition under the autism spectrum and is designed to improve communication with emergency services and criminal justice professionals.

They are obtainable from local branches of the National Autism Society. Telephone NAS Helpline 0845 570 4004 or visit their website at www.autism.org.uk

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