Forgotten, outdated, and absent: PSNI officer’s training, experiences, and confidence with Autism

Naomi Maxwell, Amanda Kramer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Building on the growing literature examining the multifaceted and complex issues surrounding police interactions with Autistic individuals, this paper examines police officers’ training, experiences, and confidence of policing and interacting with autistic individuals. The paper specifically focuses on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which has been completely neglected in the literature to date. The findings are based upon a survey completed by 212 serving PSNI officers across a variety of ranks and years of experience. While there are a range of important findings in relation to training, confidence and available adaptations, the key finding of this paper is that less than one-third of the survey respondents reported receiving training on Autism delivered by the PSNI. Perhaps even more worryingly, less than half of those who had received this training stated that they were ‘satisfied’ with it. These findings suggest that the PSNI need to urgently reform the training provided to their officers to ensure that all officers receive Autism focused training. The study findings demonstrate that this new training programme should require periodic retraining throughout officers’ careers; be designed to provide officers with both the knowledge base and skill set to effectively interact with Autistic individuals in ways that protect their human rights; and be delivered by a specialist organisation or professional, such as Autism NI.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalPolicing and Society
Early online date06 Feb 2024
Publication statusEarly online date - 06 Feb 2024


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