A York Police Community Support Officer and the team from York People First, a self advocacy group for people with learning difficulties, have been awarded a commendation for being the driving force behind a unique North Yorkshire Police scheme called We Care.
The scheme aims to help people with learning disabilities and difficulties feel more confident when they are out in York and supports them if they should ever need to contact the police.
PCSO Justin Piercy of York Outer Neighbourhood Policing Team received his commendation alongside the members of York People First from Chief Constable Lisa Winward and Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan at a ceremony held at Fulford Road Police Station on Wednesday 14 November 2018.
Nominated for his hard work by his Inspector, PCSO Piercy was instrumental in the design and implementation of the scheme, which now has over 70 members.
Speaking about the scheme PCSO Piercy said:
“As part of my everyday role I work closely with the team at York People First, learning more about the challenges that life can present for those with learning difficulties or disabilities. The group were really open and honest and told me about their first hand experiences of being specifically targeted with abuse or crime, just because of their disabilities. Their experiences started me thinking about how the police can go that one step further to help protect them from harm and make them feel safer to be out in their communities and how we can support them better if they do have to dial 999 or 101. With their guidance and input, we designed We Care.”
The scheme consists of two main elements.
When joining the scheme, people are asked to complete an application form, which provides the police with key information about the special needs of the scheme member. The information captured on the form, which has been developed with the use of Widgit pictures to enable people with learning difficulties to access and complete the form themselves, is then held securely by North Yorkshire Police and fed into the call management systems used by the Force Control Room. When a scheme member contacts police via 999 or 101, a notification is raised on screen, which alerts the staff in the Control Room to the fact that the person calling is a member of We Care and may have a requirement for extra support. By having this information to hand, it enables police to provide further assistance to the scheme member, while taking their report.
The other element is the We Care card, which scheme members can carry with them in their purse or wallet. The card has some basic details about We Care on one side and on the other, contact numbers for the persons next of kin or carer. If the scheme member finds themselves confused, lost or scared in York, they can approach a person, go into a shop or speak to a police officer and show the card to request help. Contact can then be made with the person listed overleaf.
Speaking about receiving the commendation PCSO Piercy said:
“I’m thrilled to receive a commendation from the Chief Constable. However, my thanks must go to all the team at York People First and I whole heartedly share this recognition with them. It was through them sharing their experiences that the seed, which grew into We Care, was planted.
“I’m really pleased to say that the scheme has gone from strength to strength and we now have over 70 members signed up in York alone. My ambition is for us to complete the testing of the scheme here in in York and then look to roll it out further across North Yorkshire.
“I’d urge anyone in the York area, who has a learning difficulty or disability, or knows of someone who may benefit from joining the scheme to go to the North Yorkshire Police website and visit the We Care page – www.northyorkshire.police.uk/WeCare or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.”
Inspector Lee Pointon, who nominated Justin said:
“Justin has worked tirelessly to get this scheme up and running. From designing the We Care pack and ensuring it met the needs of the people who will be using it, through to giving presentations to groups about the scheme and encouraging people to sign up, he has been 100% committed to making sure We Care has been a success in York. I’m really pleased that his hard work and determination has been recognised.
“Also my thanks go to York People First. Without their time and willingness to be part of the process and their open and honest feedback and guidance, we would not have been in a position to launch this scheme out and offer this support to those who need it.”
Justin and the York People First Team receive their commendations from Chief Constable Lisa Winward – photo courtesy of Frank Dwyer/The Press
Justin and the York People First Team at the launch of We CareLast modified: November 22, 2018