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Policing Dyslexia - beyond the Laptop & Stab proof Vest
Andy Hill, De Montfort University
There is a wealth of research and publications that focus upon the experiences of dyslexic offenders, particularly young offenders within the Criminal Justice Sector of the United Kingdom. Almost all dyslexic related research within the criminal justice sector has focused upon offenders who are imprisoned in the UK. Some of this research has generated tabloid headlines and at least one television documentary series (Reid & Kirk 2001). Within the Criminal Justice Sector of England & Wales the focus of almost all research is the offender. There is however another group of adults who live with dyslexia whose voice is yet to be heard (Hill 2005). This group are the criminal justice practitioners, those probation officers, prison officers and police officers who service the criminal justice system. The foci of my current research are the experience and perceptions of police officers in England & Wales who identify themselves as living with dyslexia. I have a strong personal interest in this group; I have lived with dyslexia and served as a police officer for 28 years.
Dyslexia and Employment has been the subject of studies, specifically Nursing, Teacher Training and Social work (Stanley et al 2007). Others have explored negative organisational and employment cultures which exclude and discriminate against, through physical, cultural and attitudinal barriers, people who live with disabilities. (Roulstone et al 2003). Few, if any, have explored the experience of police officers who live with dyslexia. In a previous study I explored the experiences of trainee police officers who were engaged in their basic training (Hill 2005). In that study I explored their perceptions and experiences of initial police training. In my current qualitative study I am exploring the experiences and perception of these and similar officers who are outside of the training environment.
My current study is informed and underpinned by the principles of the social model of disability (Barnes 1991, Oliver 1996) and has three specific themes; firstly the decision and experience of 'coming out' or disclosing the fact that they are dyslexic within the police service or the decision not to disclose; secondly their perceptions of the police service response, at all levels, to any disclosure, including aspects and impact of police an organisational culture and finally their experience and perceptions of Reasonable Adjustments that have been made for them in the operational policing role before and after the extension of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.
It is my expectation that I will be in the data analysis phase of my PhD by the time that I present this paper. I plan to present a range of emerging themes that will have started to flow from the data collection. In so doing I will offer a hitherto unheard voice to a sample of police officers in England & Wales who live with dyslexia.
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