Wiltshire Police has been awarded the Government’s top accreditation as an organisation with a positive approach to employing disabled people.

It is the first police force in the country to gain the highest Level 3 Disability Confident Leader status in the Department of Work and Pensions’ scheme to remove barriers to employment.

The accreditation means that as well as actively looking to attract, recruit and retain disabled people, the Force is flexible when assessing candidates, puts its self-assessment up for external challenge and can now offer expertise to employers across the county to encourage more organisations to become Disability Confident.

Wiltshire Police’s Diversity & Inclusion team led the work to sign up to the Disability Confident Scheme, achieving all three levels in less than a year by being able to evidence what it has done to provide employment opportunities for disabled people in recent years. The Force takes a proactive approach, focussing on ability rather than disability, to help people achieve their aspirations.

In the Devizes 24 hour Crime and Communications Centre, which handles 999 and 101 calls, the team employs an individual with a visual impairment and dyslexia and one of its call handlers is registered blind. It works closely with Pluss, a social enterprise which supports people with disabilities find work, and the Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit service which has helped three people with Downs Syndrome gain volunteering and paid employment opportunities in the Force.

Nearly 6,000 employers have become Disability Confident nationally, including 33 police forces, but Wiltshire is the first to have achieved the highest level, based on its strong recruitment and retention record which it will now look to share best practice with other employers locally.

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said, “I am so proud we are the first police force to become a Disability Confident Leader – it shows our unwavering commitment to ensure we are an organisation which can build on the strengths and talents of all individuals within our communities.

“For us it’s not about special needs, it’s about ordinary, human needs – once you have that mindset it really helps unlock the door to creating a diverse workplace,” he added.

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson added: “It’s great to see Wiltshire Police leading the way and the progress being made in making the Force more representative of the community it serves.

“Wiltshire Police was recently recognised as being ‘good’ by HMICFRS for the way it protects vulnerable people. It’s really encouraging to see it is a priority both within our workforce and how we engage with our communities.”

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