Mon, 05 Jun 2017

Autism: a guide for police officers and staff

Autism guide

This author has contributed to the new Autism: a guide for police officers and staff published by the National Autistic Society. The document contains simple dos and don’ts when interacting with autistic suspects, victims of crime and witnesses. It is a useful guide, however it would have benefitted from more autistic input such as case studies from detained autistics as well as the two from police forces.

The example interview question in the following extract from p. 22 (p. 41 of the 2020 edition) comes from my police interview:

Finally, it is really important not to use leading questions. Autistic people (unless they also have accompanying intellectual impairment) are not more suggestible than non-autistic people. However, they may be more likely to agree with the interviewer’s suggestions or to statements that are untrue, and not understand the consequences of this.

For example asking, “Has your laptop got anything on it about plans for any terrorism acts?” is likely to elicit agreement, as a web browser or a text editor could be used to plan anything.

I wrote about this interview question in my ‘Calm, almost too calm’ chapter in the Being Autistic book and talked about it in a video about how typical autistic behaviour is considered suspicious for an Ask Autism training module.

2020-10-06 Update: A new edition of this guide is available from the National Autistic Society.

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