Skilled interviewing by police officers is a crucial step on the
long road to justice for people with learning difficulties who are
victims of crime.
Without proper training for the police, people with learning
difficulties will not be heard or understood. And without
confidence in a police service properly trained to meet their
needs, victims of crime will continue to be reluctant to come
So it is not surprising that people with learning difficulties are
dismayed and angry at the news that the Metropolitan Police has
suspended specialist training for its officers after only six
months, when only 40 officers have taken part.
It is known that people with learning difficulties are particularly
likely to suffer harassment, violence and sexual attack. The
unwillingness of society as a whole to take them seriously creates
this vulnerability and encourages offenders to believe they can be
attacked with impunity. The attitude of society is reflected and
nurtured in its institutions – notably the police.
Providing a proper service for people with learning difficulties
who are interviewed by police officers is not just essential for
securing convictions – though for this reason alone the training
must be resumed. It is essential if the vicious circle that makes
people into victims is to be broken.