West Yorkshire Police have given disabled people the opportunity to travel in a specially-adapted police vehicle and learn more about policing.
The initiative was made possible through the work of Sussex Police who, in conjunction with a local charity, Chestnut Tree House Children’s’ Hospice, procured the specially-adapted vehicle to enable mobility-impaired young people to experience a ride in a police vehicle.
Following an invitation to other police forces, West Yorkshire Police borrowed the vehicle earlier this year.
Activity Community Engagement Officer at West Yorkshire Police, Simon Phillips, co-ordinated the week of activity and told Able Magazine: “Having this adapted vehicle allowed us to integrate a vulnerable and seldom-heard cohort of people into the existing Ride Along programme who might otherwise not had the opportunity to participate”.
Ride Along activities were combined with tours of local police stations in Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield Districts. Visitors came from organisations that support people with physical and/or sensory disabilities.
In January, the Leep 1 organisation, part of Advonet, visited Elland Road Police Station in Leeds. Special Section Officers, Paul Hitchman and Ed Robins showed the group some of the key locations where local officers focus their work on issues relating to anti-social behaviour and local problem-solving. The group also had a station tour and an interactive lesson on the history and rank structure of West Yorkshire Police. Tauseef said: “I enjoyed going round Leeds in the police van and meeting all the police officers. It was great to have a tour around the police station. I would definitely visit again, thanks for having me”.
February saw members of Bradford People First visit Trafalgar House Police Station in Bradford. Facilitated by PC James Elliott, PC Fiz Ahmed and PC Jas Rayatt, the group learned about the role of the police, met the police bike team, and tried on uniforms. Katie said: “James, Jas and Fiz gave us lots of information, they were very friendly, respectful and we had lots of fun. Then we went out in the van with James and Jas to see what a patrol around the area was like. They then drove us back to Bradford People First and came in for a cup of tea”.
Kids from Wasdale Children’s Centre also visited Havertop Lane Police Station in Normanton. Sergeant Zoe Kempa and PC Jon Kaye co-ordinated the vehicle activity whilst PCSO Jonathan Plummer conducted a station tour and delivered a cyber safety awareness session. One of the group leaders, Debbie, said: “Thank you, it was brilliant. All the boys enjoyed it and were telling the other staff on our return.”
For most of the visitors, this was their firstever contact with the police service and it is hoped that the visit will now make members of the group more confident in reporting crime and other concerns to West Yorkshire Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams from West Yorkshire Police’s Chief Officer Team said: “I am delighted that West Yorkshire Police provided disabled young people and adults with the opportunity to learn more about the day-to-day work of the Force in keeping our communities safe. The Ride Alongs helped our officers and staff to better understand different physical, learning and sensory impairments, enabling us to more effectively support individual needs and vulnerabilities”.