We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Durham launches scheme for neurodiverse victims and witnesses

Durham has introduced a new scheme to help keep neurodiverse victims and witnesses calm whilst they are in the station.

The scheme is centred around wellbeing boxes which contain various sensory items including fidget spinners, PlayDoh, velvet material and brushes. 

The initiative, which was introduced by the force’s Autism Association, is aimed at helping people feel more at ease and consequently more able to communicate with staff. 

It has been funded by Durham’s PCC, Joy Allen, and will be available across the force’s main stations. 

While this initiative is aimed specifically at victims and witnesses, the force has confirmed that they do also have items available in custody for neurodiverse detainees, which can be provided subject to a risk assessment. 

Project lead and deputy force lead for autism, Sergeant Matt Heinzman, said: “The rollout of the wellbeing boxes in force is something we are proud of for the benefit of all victims and witnesses within our policing areas. 

“This is one of the many projects that we have ongoing, and we hope to follow this in due course with further ways of supporting the neurodiverse community.” 

PCC Joy Allen added: “I fully support the roll out of these wellbeing boxes and the efforts undertaken by the force to cater for the needs of victims and witnesses of crime who have additional needs, including autism.   

“Police stations can be frightening and unsettling places for most people but especially for those with autism who can find the environment extremely distressing. These wellbeing boxes will help alleviate some of the initial stress factors and provide comfort in unfamiliar surroundings.  

“Police forces have a duty of care to protect all witnesses and victims of crime, especially the vulnerable, and I am pleased these needs are being addressed with sensitivity, compassion and understanding.”  

The boxes were inspired by charity, Emily's Gift, which was established following the death of teenager Emily Moore in 2020 who had struggled with mental health problems. 

PC Lisa Hall, force lead for autism, said: “I was fortunate enough in my role as a response officer to have spent time with Emily who opened up to me about the different sensory items she had with her, and what benefit they gave her.

“Her passion was to become a social worker so that she could help others. I hope in Emily’s memory through the wellbeing boxes and supporting Emily’s Gift we can continue her passion and legacy to help our vulnerable victims and witnesses.”

Leave a Comment
In Other News
Met officers deny assaulting man they believed was a robbery suspect
Pledge to end response teams being used as 'mental health ambulances'
Northamptonshire introduces ‘trauma-informed custody’ scheme
More News