Commissioner Keen to Develop Police Contact Options for the Deaf Community

Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer welcomed the Deafness Support Network (DSN) and North West Ambulance Service to the Force Control Centre at Police HQ. The visit aimed to highlight how contacting the police and other emergency services can be made more accessible for those with hearing loss.

Cheshire Constabulary Force Control Centre GoodSAM demonstration

The recent launch of the 999BSL service means that British Sign Language users can now contact all UK emergency services using their first language. Via a live video link, the caller can talk in real time to the call handler, with an interpreter signing the handler’s responses and instructions back to them. However, there is currently no option to contact the 101 non-emergency line in the same way.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer, said “The new technology allowing British Sign Language users to contact the emergency services in their first language is a huge breakthrough.

“We must continue with this momentum and ensure that all other police and emergency service contact options are accessible for every community in Cheshire.

“The 101 service is an alternative to 999, for when the issue experienced is not a police emergency but the caller still requires help or advice. It is crucial that this support is available to the deaf community too and I am keen to develop the 999BSL concept into other areas of police contact.”

During the visit, a demonstration of the force’s GoodSAM technology was also provided. GoodSAM allows 999 callers to have live video contact with their call handler by sending a link to the individual’s smartphone. The technology also sends their live location through to the Control Centre so that the call handler, and the police if necessary, can locate them quickly and easily.

John Dwyer added “It is important that we harness the technology that is available within the Force Control Centre and use it to benefit the lives of Cheshire’s residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable such as members of the deaf community.

“Through the inspiration of 999BSL and the GoodSAM technology, there is an opportunity to enhance all areas of police contact and I will continue working closely with DSN, North West Ambulance Service and the Constabulary to ensure the deaf community are fully catered for within the emergency services.”

CEO of DSN, David Horrocks, said “The visit was really useful. It is heartening to see the commitment of the emergency services to maximise the use of technology that has been developed.

“I am also very impressed by the leadership of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the North West Ambulance Service and Cheshire Constabulary in their efforts to better support the deaf community.

“Equitable access to emergency services is a must for every member of the deaf community but there is still a long way to go before this can be achieved. DSN will continue to work with the emergency services as part of this coordinated effort.”

To find out more about 999BSL, visit the website here: 999bsl.co.uk