26th November 2022 - PCSOs are real people too!
We Met with three lovely officers today. Two were PCSOs and we wasn't sure about the rank of the third officer. These three people were very different and reminiscent of the diversity we see in the community. Today was very much about autism awareness and I went accompanied with another person who also has Aspergers. All three officers had an awareness of supporting vulnerable people in general. Specific autism awareness varied among the three officers, which is to be expected, of course. One officer could personally relate to autism and appreciated my Aspie friend talking about his experiences. Another is already well appreciated in the community for his work and experience assisting people with mental health issues and safeguarding them. The third told me that her roles involved helping vulnerable people and engagement at a multi-agency level.
Today was undoubtedly a big community engagement success. It was clear to see how a visible multi-agency ASB approach was making a huge difference to tackling ASB.
25th November 2022 - Are PCSOs misunderstood?
Following some hateful comments that I found on facebook targeted towards PCSOs I decided to meet them just to hear about their jobs. When I entered the room two PCSOs were sat near a table with open gesture. I approached them and they asked how they might help me. I told them that I didn't come for them to help me and that I wanted to find our more about them and their job. I opened the conversation with the question, "As an autistic person in the community how can I assist police when in the community?" What has this to do with autism awareness campaigning you might ask. Autistic people in the community share some of the same negative issues that PCSOs face:
Misrepresented (often malicious or hateful)
Identifying that we have these things in common allowed me to share my experiences as well as listening to theirs. This helped me gain a much better understanding of the good work PCSOs do in the community and helped them understand a little more about working with autistic people in the community. From the conversation I took away three key points about their job:
Tackling Anti-social Behaviour (ASB seems to be an accepted acronym)
Making a visible presence on the street.
Helping people who are struggling. (not often spoken about by people on facebook)
We agreed that people were quick to express hatred in their online comments and very slow to offer praise or any expression of love. This is true of both facebook comments and those on the Bournemouth Echo site. We discussed a few examples.
They already had a good autism awareness and invited me to apply as a volunteer in the force to extend this further. They know to look in your wallet in an emergency where you may be unconscious to find emergency information and your Autism Alert card.
I left feeling that the conversation had benefited them as well as those in the community on the autistic spectrum.