TWO-thirds of the general public don’t think deaf people can work in the police force, a new survey shows.
The poll of 2,176 people, commissioned by the National Deaf Children’s Society for National Careers Week (7-12 March), reveals that 62% of the public aren’t confident that deaf people are allowed to be employed in the police service.
In fact, deaf people can work in a range of roles, such as police officers and staff, special constables and Police Community Support Officers. There’s also a variety of non-community-facing positions open to them, from communications and crime to forensics and fingerprints officers.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has also confirmed that police forces across the country have deaf members of staff and it says deaf young people should apply.
The National Deaf Children’s Society ran the poll as part of its Deaf Works Everywhere campaign, which aims to get more deaf young people into work and into jobs that inspire them.
The charity is concerned that misconceptions like this may cause deaf young people to limit or change their plans, ruling out career options like the police because they wrongly believe they can’t apply.
It also fears that the problem begins at school. A separate survey found that just one in ten deaf young people had received careers advice tailored to their deafness, while a third had received no advice at all.
As a result, the charity says schools have a huge role to play in providing deaf young people with careers advice that is fully accessible, informs them of their rights and makes them aware of the many career choices available.
It also says employers need to develop a good understanding of the adjustments they can make for deaf young people and make sure they reach them during recruitment drives.
With the right careers advice and deaf aware employers, the charity says there is no limit to what deaf young people can achieve.
Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, Lead for Workforce Diversity and Representation at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said:
“We are committed to achieving a representative workforce and warmly welcome applications from all members of the community. Forces across the country have deaf members of staff who have successful and rewarding careers, working to keep communities safe.
“There are many roles within the police service, including police officers, police staff, special constables and Police Community Support Officers. Many of these jobs can be done by deaf people.
“Police forces are happy to help and provide more information if there is a role that would interest you. They will support you through the application and selection process. If you are successful, you will be given the support you need to do your job.”
Martin McLean, Senior Policy Adviser at the National Deaf Children’s Society, added:
“We were really shocked by these figures and it’s a clear sign that deaf young people just don’t get the information they need.
“Deafness doesn’t hold young people back, but myths and misconceptions do and if they wrongly believe that many careers are out of bounds, many will end up unfairly limiting their ambitions. It’s an institutionalised injustice and it has to change.
“We need schools to offer better careers advice tailored to deaf young people’s needs and it must start now. Employers also need to play their part by doing more to reach deaf young people and inspiring them to make an application.
“There’s an entire generation of deaf potential out there and after a few important changes, it can finally be unleashed.”