Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Police and autism in practice

The Metropolitan Police have been found guilty of assault on a boy with autism and epilepsy who jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed. He is unable to communicate by speech and was restrained by handcuffs and leg locks during a school trip. They have also been found guilty of disability discrimination and false imprisonment. Despite the fact that they have been refused right to appeal by the court they say they intend taking it back to court, yet there is no sign of this incident on their news website.

The action sounds heavy handed in the extreme, and with no comment from the Met. I can only infer that they are too embarrassed to comment and just want this to go away. Things like this shouldn't be allowed to go away. The incident itself is reprehensible but if it's allowed to drift under the public view, it effectively makes this sort of action less of a worry for the police. They'll only stop doing it if they are forcibly told it's wrong.

It sounds to me that the whole incident could have been avoided if the police had dealt with the carers sensibly and not jumped in with both feet. The police should be the ones who protect vulnerable members of the community - not the ones who inflict the damage. This is the extreme tip of a big and expanding iceberg as more people with learning disabilities lose support through service cuts and come up against the law through 'inappropriate behaviour'. If they'd had the right support, I suspect the police wouldn't have been called in at all.

This is a serious matter, I'll be interested to see how long it stays on the BBC news front page.

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