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Custody scheme for deaf people approved by Commissioner's Office

A pioneering scheme which will improve the experience of deaf people in police custody is being rolled out after funding was approved by the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime Commissioner.

The scheme sees the creation of a bespoke British Sign Language (BSL) video to ensure any BSL user detained in police custody can understand what is happening.

The video is being created following discussions with the Staffordshire Police PLOD (Police Link Officer for Deaf People) group which has been working to improve the custody experience for people with hearing loss since 2012.

The British Deaf Association estimates that 127,000 people in England use BSL, equating to more than 2,300 people in Staffordshire.

Deputy Staffordshire Commissioner Sue Arnold said: “Clear lines of communication when someone is in police custody are essential in order that they can fully understand why they are there and what will happen next.

“Using existing phone-based translation services, officers can access dozens of languages at the touch of a button but effective communication with deaf people can be harder. This risks creating an imbalance in the service offered to the public, which is why I am pleased the Staffordshire Commissioner is able to fund this project.”

The video is being adapted from existing material and will cost just £1,000 to make. It is expected to be in use in custody units across Staffordshire by summer 2019.

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