The inspiration for the Nottinghamshire Autism Police Partnership (NAPP) originated from research conducted by Dr Chloe Holloway which found that autistic individuals can have negative experiences in police custody resulting in significant personal and legal outcomes. Importantly, this work identified a need for changes to police practice, the custody environment and local and national policy to help improve the support of autistic individuals in police custody.
To build on this work, the NAPP was formed in September 2018 and comprises autistic individuals, police officers and academics from across the UK. It is an interdisciplinary group established by researchers in the School of Law and School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham. The establishment of the NAPP was funded by a Nottingham Impact Accelerator Award and has been further supported by the ESRC for various projects linked to the group.
Our members are individuals who have lived experience of the criminal justice system and/or an interest in socio-legal research specialising in autism in the criminal justice system. We also have a number of members who are police officers or staff that are interested in improving the service offered by police forces towards vulnerable detainees across the UK.
Our research aims to improve the support of autistic individuals in police custody and the criminal justice system by working to achieve some of these changes. In 2018, NAPP co-produced an autism training toolkit and training video for custody staff to help raise awareness of the difficulties experienced by autistic individuals during the custody process. We have also been working with police forces across the UK to deliver autism training to custody staff and/or to make their custody suites more 'autism-friendly'.
Our future research aims to investigate the need to standardise best practice for supporting autistic individuals. We hope to work with national policing organisations to roll out improved autism training to all police forces and make all custody suites more accessible.