Protecting Visually Impaired People from Bogus Callers
Friday 22 January, 2016
Visually impaired people contacting West Yorkshire Police now have an improved method to check the identity of police officers attending at their properties, and reduce the risk of letting a bogus officer into the property.
Usually, when officers attend a property they have a warrant card to identify themselves to the householder and prove they are who they claim to be.
For visually impaired people, however, this isn’t always practical. After speaking to members of the visually-impaired community as part of a Force Visual Impairment Working Group, a new way of working has been established.
Now, when someone comes to the door of a visually impaired person claiming to be a police officer, the officer will be required to provide personal security information, supplied when the member of the public contacts the Force. The caller will simply select a password of their choosing, which will then be provided to the attending officers. If the officer fails to provide the correct details, the member of the public can ring 999 to request immediate police attendance.
John Robins, Temporary Deputy Chief Constable from West Yorkshire Police said; "Protecting vulnerable people is at the heart of everything we do. We recognise how vulnerable visually-impaired members of the public are to bogus callers, and those who masquerade as police officers, to gain entry to the homes of the visually-impaired.
"This initiative demonstrates the innovation, support and safeguards that the Force will provide to someone when reporting a crime. West Yorkshire Police have worked in close partnership with organisations who support the visually-impaired to develop a process which we are confident will make contact with the police even safer."
Tom Donohoe, Head of West Yorkshire Police’s Customer Contact Centre, explained that; "The Force’s Customer Contact Centre are always looking for more ways to assist the public in contacting us or in making sure that we provide as safe a service as possible, as in this protocol.
"We are nationally recognised as leaders in this area and treat our commitment to members of the public who may have specific requirements from us, very seriously, and so are delighted to be a part of this new initiative. We are here to help."
The Visual Impairments Protocol has received support from the community. Tim McSharry, Head of Disability and Diversity for the Access Committee for Leeds, and who sits on the Visual Impairments Working Group, said; "As someone who is visually-impaired, this is fantastic news, and I want to say truly well done to West Yorkshire Police for launching this initiative. The strategic level of engagement and partnership associated with developing this protocol has been very truly outstanding and when considering safeguarding, vulnerability and focus on inclusive service, it really does highlight an absolute commitment to addressing diversity of needs across all communities."
Simon Phillips, Community Engagement Officer at West Yorkshire Police, who has co-ordinated the project with Tom Donohoe said; "It is very important that police officers and other police employees calling at the door for whatever reason are able to identify themselves and in most circumstances that is straight forward. We have worked closely with the visually impaired community to check that this process is effective.
"Visually impaired people are potentially vulnerable from rogue callers at the door so anything that helps to safeguard them is important. I would also appeal to anyone who has a friend or neighbour who they know to be visually impaired to let them know about this new protocol.
"The Visual Impairments Protocol applies to anyone with a visual impairment, whether with full blindness, with a guide dog or with any sight-impaired condition. It can also be used by anyone who cares for someone who is visually-impaired."
For more information, and to access an audio explanation of the Protocol, please visit http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/helpadvice/visual-impairments-protocol