Police place learning difficulties course on hold after six months

Specialised training for the Metropolitan Police in interviewing
people with learning difficulties has been suspended just six
months after it was introduced, writes Sally

Community Care has learned that a five-day specialist skills
course, launched in February, is being reviewed, even though fewer
than 40 of the Met’s 30,000-plus officers have undertaken the

The Met insisted this week that the course was only a pilot.

But charities are urging the police to reintroduce the training as
soon as possible. They fear that people with learning difficulties
who may be victims of crime will not be dealt with properly.

Joan Scott, a consultant for Inspired Services, an organisation
that helps people with learning difficulties, said: “There is a
need for this training and it must be made a priority. We know the
police are often not able to talk properly or listen to people with
learning difficulties.

“Allegations are often left unanswered, sometimes because of the
language used by people with learning difficulties.

“Often someone with a learning difficulty might talk about being
bullied when they have in fact been the victim of a crime, so their
complaint is not taken seriously.”

The training was introduced because a foundation course where
police interviewed fellow officers failed to equip them with the
skills to carry out interviews.

Kathryn Stone, director of learning difficulties charity Voice UK,
said: “I am confident that the Met will carry out its review
swiftly and the course will be resumed in order that people with
learning difficulties can continue to benefit from enhanced

The charity’s employees, who have a range of learning difficulties,
take part in the training by volunteering to be interviewed by
police officers.

A spokesperson for the Met said: “We are planning to refine and
improve the course. It will be targeted at officers who need it
most, such as community safety officers. It’s a matter of

But she said she did not know how long it would take to complete
the review.

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 set out a range of
special measures that should be introduced by police forces to help
groups such as children and people with learning difficulties –
often considered unreliable witnesses – to give good quality

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