Constabulary introduces new scheme to help those with communication challenges
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Today (Monday 20 November) Hertfordshire Constabulary is launching ‘Pegasus’ – a scheme to help those with communication challenges when they have contact with police and other emergency services.
In partnership with the East of England Ambulance Service and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Pegasus is designed to assist those who sometimes find it difficult to speak or make themselves understood, especially in pressured situations.
Inspector Dean Board, who has been working to implement the scheme, said: “This is a simple tool that provides us with extra information when answering a call for help.
“It will allow us to tailor how we respond depending on an individual’s needs, ensuring that we are able to communicate effectively and therefore build trust and confidence with those who may initially be nervous about contacting police.”
Registration is easy, free-of-charge and involves providing a few simple details, which are held on a secure police database. It is open to everyone who lives or works in the county. Those who care for people with communication difficulties can also register on their behalf.
Following registration, the individual will then receive a membership card and a PIN.
When calling for assistance, the cardholder simply needs to say ‘Pegasus’ and quote their PIN for call handlers to provide the appropriate information to responding officers. There is also a Textphone option.
The card can also be shown in person to a police officer, paramedic or firefighter.
The constabulary’s strategic lead for disability Craig Flint said: “The introduction of this free scheme will enable us to work collaboratively with our emergency services partners to support those in our communities with needs which, often unseen, can leave individuals feeling isolated and unsupported.
“With disability hate crime being hugely under-reported it is hoped that this service will also empower individuals and their families/carers to sign up and give a voice to those who sometimes have difficulty in being heard. This will help us to work with partners to protect those who are vulnerable from harm, therefore building trust and confidence in keeping our communities safe.”
Nicola Ponikiewski, the constabulary’s neurodiversity lead, added: “We already know that the Pegasus scheme is working well in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, so we were keen to introduce it here in Herts to make it easier for members of the public to communicate with us.
“In the emergency services we come across people from all walks of life including those who are neurodivergent, or those with conditions that can sometimes affect communication. We also know that stressful situations can often exacerbate those difficulties so in our profession it is important that we make speaking to us as easy as possible.
“We hope that where individuals with communication challenges do need to contact us, for whatever reason that might be, they will feel more confident in doing so with the support of the Pegasus scheme.”
For more information and to join online visit the constabulary’s Pegasus webpage.