How are Response Police Officers facilitated in the identification and support of offenders with speech, language and communication needs?
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: A growing body of literature is attesting to a greater prevalence of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) in offenders than the general population. As response Police Officers (POs) are usually the first contact in the criminal justice system (CJS), they are well positioned to identify the presence of SLCN, and provide appropriate support to reduce any potential unfair disadvantage. This is particularly relevant to response POs due to the impact of SLCN on an offender’s ability to provide evidence. Some youth offending team (YOT) staff receive training on SLCN; however the training received by POs has not been researched. Aims: To explore the ways in which POs’ are facilitated to identify and support offenders with speech, language and communication needs (OWSLCNs). Methods & Procedures: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with three response POs. Following transcription the interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Outcomes & Results: The participants reported confidence in their ability to manage OWSLCNs due to their experience in the police service. There were some other ways that they were facilitated in the identification and support of OWSLCNs; however there were also a number of barriers, in particular a lack of training. Consequently the participants felt their management of OWSLCNs could be improved with the introduction of training, provision of assessment tools and specialist support for OWSLCNs during interview. Conclusions: Further research is needed to gain the views of a greater representation of the England and Wales police service; however this preliminary research highlights some interesting issues. The implications of these findings for both the police service and SLTs are considered.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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