Hampshire Constabulary has announced that 6 new Police Approved Interpreters and Translators (PAIT) are now able to support members of the deaf community who come into contact with officers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight.
The PAIT scheme was introduced in October 2020 by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and compliments the work of the 21 Police Link Officers for Deaf people (PLOD officers) who already work across the force.
The 6 interpreters utilised by the force are provided by Gosport-based company Lipspeaker UK. The NRCPD (National Registers of Communications Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people) registered, vetted, and independent professionals will assist victims, witnesses, and suspects from the deaf community.
British Sign Language (BSL) and English Interpreters are hearing people who interpret from spoken English to BSL and vice versa. BSL is the first or preferred language of an estimated 70,000 Deaf people in the UK and BSL was recognised by the Government as a language in its own right in March 2003. BSL is a visual-gestural language, with its own grammar and syntax, which are completely different from the grammatical structure of English.
In addition, 2 of the 6 interpreters are also Lipspeakers – hearing people who have been professionally trained to be easy to lipread. Lipspeakers reproduce clearly the shapes of the words and the natural rhythm and stress used by the speaker. They also use facial expression, gesture and, if requested, fingerspelling, to aid the lipreader’s understanding.
Lipspeakers are used to support deaf people who do not use British Sign Language and who lipread as their primary means of communication.
Detective Chief Inspector Gabe Snuggs, force lead for Deaf Access said:
“I’m delighted that the service that we provide to the deaf community when they come into contact with our officers is being enhanced even further. We’re already really lucky to have the expertise of our twenty-one Link officers who, as well as providing communication support for deaf people when reporting matters to police, can advise our investigators and other teams like Response and Patrol as to when an approved interpreter may be able to help someone that they have come into contact with.
“Having a local provider to work in partnership with is also important as the interpreters will be aware of challenges that the deaf community may be facing in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight, which will ensure that the support we offer is bespoke to our residents.
“Inclusion is vitally important for Hampshire Constabulary and our officers and staff are working hard to provide the best service that we can to our diverse communities”.
Lesley Weatherson, Director of Lipspeaker UK said:
“We are delighted to be providing the first cohort of PAIT accredited British Sign Language/English interpreters in the UK. This shows our commitment to improving the standard of interpreting across the police setting. Working with Hampshire Constabulary we have shown how a specialist deaf led agency can improve the provision of language service professionals and after passing our annual audit inspection we are well placed to continue our first class service into 2022. I am personally proud to be the first BSL/English interpreter to be PAIT registered”.
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