All police officers receive training on a range of mental health and related issues, including awareness of autism spectrum disorders, as part of the existing national police curriculum.
The College of Policing provides national training and learning resources, and is undertaking a wide-ranging review of the guidance and training available to police officers in relation to the identification of vulnerabilities, including mental ill-health, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. All police officers will be expected to participate in training to recognise autism spectrum disorders once the refreshed training programme is available, which is expected to be at the end of 2015.
As the police training curriculum is refreshed, the College will consult the National Autistic Society and other national charities on its content as it relates to mental ill-health, learning disability and autism spectrum disorders.
In addition to the national work of the College, last year the Government commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct a thematic inspection into the treatment of vulnerable people in police custody. The inspectorate is due to publish its report in March and this will inform the College of Policing’s review of training as well as highlighting other areas where improvements can be made.
Action is taking place at local force level also. Many have developed their own tailored training programmes to support their officers and staff in the identification and appropriate handling of people experiencing mental ill-health or who have learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders. Hampshire Police, for example, have received training from and continue to work closely with the Hampshire Autistic Society.