From fighting for the right to live free from hate, to providing vulnerable and disabled people with somewhere to go for help while out and about, the Disability Advisory Forum has helped make our county a safer place to live, work and visit.
The Forum is a group of volunteers from the local community who work with your Police and Crime Commissioner and police force to help us better understand the needs of disabled people. The current membership of the Forum includes people with visual and hearing impairments, mental health issues, developmental disorders, learning difficulties, and physical disabilities.
By sharing their views and experiences with us, they bring a community perspective to policing discussions and highlight the crime and disorder issues which are affecting them.
Through their input and advice, the Forum has helped us improve access to policing services, better support disabled victims of crime, break down barriers between police and communities, and increase confidence in reporting crime.
Key areas of the Forum’s work include:
- Bringing the Safer Places scheme to Norfolk
The Forum has been a driving force behind the county’s Safer Places scheme, aimed at providing disabled and vulnerable people with somewhere to go if they find themselves in need of a helping hand while out in their local area. Approaching its one-year anniversary, the PCC-funded scheme is now up and running in five towns around Norfolk, with a sixth location to be launched later this month.
- Raising awareness of hate crime
Many of the Forum’s members did not know what a hate crime was before they began to work with us but it soon became apparent, once they started talking about it, that a lot of them had been victims. The group has worked hard to raise awareness of hate crime across the county. Through speaking with their families, friends and groups with which they are involved, they have helped spread the word that hate crime should not be tolerated and raise community confidence that victims will be taken seriously and given the support they need.
- Increasing officer understanding of mental health and learning difficulties
The Forum’s members highlighted a learning need among frontline officers in relation to recognising when people might have mental health issues or learning difficulties and understanding their needs. Members have been involved in discussions to shape officer training in this area, and often observe training being delivered to officers and provide feedback on the quality of the information they are receiving. This input is invaluable and feeds into the Constabulary’s ongoing development of its officer training.
- Improving access to police services
The Forum is consulted on lots of subjects, but one which gets a significant response from members is access to police services. They have looked at the public meetings that policing teams hold to agree priorities for their local area. They have also given their feedback on how easy it is to contact their local police by telephone, and whether the information provided by police to victims of crime meets the needs of those with different types of disability. By sharing their experiences, good and bad, the members have helped highlight issues that may not otherwise have been picked up and enabled us to take action to address them.
You can find out more about the work of the Norfolk Police Disability Advisory Forum: Disability Advisory Forum Annual Report 2013 (PDF, 496.6 KB).
The Forum will hold its Annual General Meeting on 11 July 2014 – more details to follow.
The Forum is one of four groups of volunteers working alongside your Police and Crime Commissioner.