- Greater awareness by criminal justice professionals (and the public who often call out the police) of autistic behaviours that require a professional health or social care response, as opposed to a police response.
- Proactive emergency health and social care services in place to attend incidents of sensory overload and ‘meltdown' affecting autistic people
- Where police are the first on the scene, use of liaison and diversion to divert to clinical services for assessment as alternative to arrest and custody
- Where there is no alternative to being apprehended by the police, PACE and the Human Rights Act are fully and properly applied to safeguard autistic detainees; e.g. presence of Appropriate Adult (AA), Health Care Professional to assess for fitness to detain and interview, reasonable adjustments, ABE interviews, etc.
- That AAs, custody nurses, custody officers and duty solicitors are properly trained about autism and the needs of autistic people.
- Assessments for fitness to detain and interview are carried out by persons properly qualified to do so
- Family or friends are consulted when a detainee has protected characteristics under PACE
- Medical and social reports are given full consideration when these are made available.
- Full disclosure of CCTV footage and other key evidence that would support the defence is made available
- Police investigate away from, as well as towards, allegations
- Equal weight should be given to the distress of an autistic ‘accused’ person to that of those immediately identified police as a ‘victim’ until all the facts have been properly established.
- Where records of autistic people have to be held on police databases, protective markers are included to safeguard the person
- Where it is established that erroneous allegations and information exist on police databases that cause psychiatric harm to autistic individuals, these should be neutralised in a manner acceptable to the individual concerned
- Pocket notebook allegations should always be recorded in the complainants own words and signed by them, not be recorded as police officers’ own version of events
- Where police and other criminal justice professionals get it wrong, they should own up to mistakes as soon as possible to avoid lengthy complaints processes that cause distress and harm to the autistic person and their family
- Evidence should be provided to back up police officers’ versions of events, and where this is not forthcoming, should be challenge by proper consideration of the accused person’s evidence
- This must include the proper consideration of medical evidence and clinical reports
Where an autistic person or their advocate do have to make a complaint against the police, the following should happen:
- Remove discrimination by giving equal time to the complainant to make and appeal against complaints as the person investigating the complaints
- Make other ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the process
- Fully and properly comply with all guidelines governing the police complaints process as required by the Police Reform Act
- Ensure that complaint investigators have the skills and understanding of autism to investigate the complaint in an informed manner
- Where this is not possible, investigations should be scrutinised and endorsed by more senior officers who do
have this level of knowledge and understanding
- The same criteria should apply when police decide not to make a ‘recording decision' about a complaint—the decision that a complaint is not legitimate and should not be investigated