'Autism Card' Program Launched in London to Help Interactions With Police

FRIDAY, July 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- An autism card program meant to improve interactions between police and people with autism has been introduced by police in London, England.

The cards, created after consultations with charities and other agencies that work with autistic people, will be distributed to people with autism to inform police about communication or behavioral issues a person may have, CNN reported.

"Having an encounter with police -- whether as a victim, someone officers are concerned for the welfare of, or as a suspect -- is an unsettling encounter for anybody, but for someone with autism, it can be extremely distressing," Detective Superintendent Helen Lyons, the Met's lead responsible officer for Adults Neglected, Vulnerable and Abused, said in a statement.

However, "officers currently have no way of knowing whether someone has autism, a condition which may explain their behaviour," sheb said.

"We've heard awful stories of anxious behaviour being misinterpreted by emergency services and situations escalating quickly," Clare Hughes, Criminal Justice Manager at the NAS, told CNN.

"Up until now, officers have had no way of knowing whether someone is autistic," Hughes said, adding that the cards "should allow officers to adapt their communication or actions, so they can make sure they treat autistic people appropriately and with respect."

The cards will be distributed by autism partnership boards and police.

The autism card program was announced the same week as police in London came under scrutiny.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog said Thursday that it was investigating after a viral video appeared to show officers forcibly restraining a man while he was having a seizure, CNN reported.

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