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Breaking down police barriers

Published date: 05 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A PARTNERSHIP scheme set up between a policing team and a college is providing key learning opportunities.

For the past 12 months Llangollen-based police officers have been helping to provide students at Derwen College, Oswestry, with a greater understanding of the role and the work of the police.

The college is a specialist residential college for young people aged between 16 and 25 who have a wide range of learning difficulties and other disabilities.

Its aim is to nurture, develop and challenge the students to equip them with the skills they need for employment and to live as independently as possible.

While the students have been visiting police and learning more about their day to day work in the community and responsibilities, the officers have also been gaining a greater understanding of issues facing young people with learning disabilities and difficulties.

Recently, four officers including District Inspector Siobhan Edwards and Sgt Paul Hughes made a reciprocal visit to the college where they met up with the students – some of whom have cerebral palsy, autism, Downs Syndrome - and their tutors for a further insight into the work on-going at the college.

Sgt Hughes said: “The partnership has broadened our knowledge immensely.

“I was approached by Sarah Laszlo, who is a teacher and voice co-ordinator at the college and organised for a number of groups of students to visit us and learn about policing and it all stemmed from there.”

A number of presentations have been delivered by Mrs Laszlo to staff in Llangollen.

The presentations have given officers a valuable insight into the difficulties that people with learning disabilities may experience, especially when dealing with police.

Sgt Hughes said: “We’ve been able to put ourselves in the position of the young adults and try to see things from their perspective.

“This has allowed us to fully appreciate the difficulties they may face when communication is often difficult for them.

“In addition, we have also learnt more around how to recognise certain disabilities and the characteristics that may be displayed.”

Speaking on behalf of the college, Ms Laszlo said: “We are delighted the reciprocal partnership between the college and the officers based in Llangollen has been, and continues to be, so successful.

“The opportunity to carry out mutually beneficial awareness building exercises has been invaluable and has gone a long way towards addressing any perceived barriers between the two groups.

“Students at Derwen now have a far greater understanding of the police force's role in the community and officers can feel more confident when it comes to dealing with young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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