Three police forces have teamed up to identify potential ways to improve their services to victims, witnesses and those arrested.
Beds, Herts and Cambs police forces invited people to give their views at Stevenage Police Station on Sunday.
Chief Supt Jane Swinburne said: It is absolutely vital that we target our services and meet the needs of our public who may be witnesses or find themselves being detained in our custody units. What better way to do this than by going out and actually talking with people from our diverse communities?
“I was thrilled that so many people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences gave up their valuable time to come along to this event to share their views. We will take on board everything they have said and use it to help shape future custody and witness care provision for the benefit of all.”
The event, which included a tour of the station’s custody facilities, was attended by members of the deaf and transgender communities, wheelchair users, faith leaders and ethnic minorities.
Steve Minchington, a 60 year old from Bedford who has autism and uses a wheelchair, said: “It was a really good idea that the police held this public engagement event because it will help involve people who might one day enter custody as a detainee or the Criminal Justice system as a victim or witness.”
While Mandy Watts, a 54 year old transsexual from Bedford, said: “The transgender spectrum encompasses a diverse range of conditions and these people have anxieties and concerns that the police may not be aware of.
“Today’s event has been a very good opportunity to network with the police and help them better understand custody and criminal justice from a transgender perspective.”
The three forces already offer a variety of accessibility measures within custody and the criminal justice service. These include wheelchairs, hearing loops and the availability of information and reading materials in different languages.
Chief Supt Swinburne added: “We continue to explore all avenues that may open up new ways to tailor services to each individual case and help ensure we provide the best possible care for detainees, witnesses and victims.”
The three forces will now review the responses and use the findings as part of an ongoing programme of change. They also hope to run similar engagement events in future to help shape any changes as they are implemented.