Derbyshire Police Federation

Neurodiversity group is 'making a difference to people's lives'

22 March 2024

A network set up to support neurodiverse officers and staff in Derbyshire Police is making a difference to people’s lives, says the group’s lead.

Temporary Chief Inspector Clare Preston-Davies says she is proud of the work of the Force’s Neurodiversity Working Group and the positive impact it is having.

Clare, a Derbyshire Police Federation member, was highlighting the group and the support it provides for Neurodiversity Celebration Week.

“It seems to be making a big difference to people, which is fantastic,” she said.

They include PC James Dean who has spoken about the positive impact it has had on him.

James said: “Before I joined the group, I was hesitant to talk about my autism.

“In fact, I was even reluctant to join the group because I thought there would be a stigma attached to it.

“Now, a few months on, I’m sharing my story with the whole organisation. This is the power of the group, and I would encourage anyone who is struggling, or feels like they are alone, to join.”


Temporary Chief Inspector Clare Preston-Davies.


PC Joshua Poultney is also a member of the Neurodiversity Working Group.

He said: “It is full of so many amazing, fantastic and supportive people from all job roles and walks of life.

"Everyone involved wants to help create more awareness and understanding of neurodiversity so that no one has to feel ashamed of who they are, and the group looks to actively celebrate everyone’s uniqueness."

The group was set up around two years ago by Clare with Lynne Wynne, chair of the Force’s disability network. It now has more than 150 members and is growing all the time.

The group has three aims - to raise awareness, to remove stigma, and to create an environment where everyone can flourish.

It hosts chats on Teams and allows colleagues to share help and support, and to talk to each other. It’s also there for line managers and supervisors who might want some advice, while guest speakers are invited to give talks.

The group is supported by Assistant Chief Officer Andrew Price, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead on disabilities in policing.

It works with the Force on things such as promotion processes, and helped support the peer review around neurodiversity.

The Neurodiversity Working Group also works with other organisations on a national level. They attended the recent launch of the Police National Dyslexia Association and supports the ADHD Alliance, for which Clare is an ambassador in Derbyshire.

And the group has recently launched its neurodiversity champions. They are group members with lived experience of neurodiversity, either themselves or a family member, who are there to talk to people.

Clare was diagnosed with ADHD herself less than a year ago.

“The more I started talking to people who are likeminded the more it became obvious that I had got ADHD,” she said.

“I have combined ADHD, which is the hyperactivity and the attention deficit.

“Most of the tine I think it’s brilliant. It is absolutely me described to a T, I smile when I think of it.

“But there are also some things I’ve had to question.

“There are some things I’ve struggled with recently, and I need to work out if it was me or the circumstances I was faced with, to understand what I need to change.

“I don’t know whether my diagnosis changes everything or nothing.”

A recent survey of members of the group found that 39 per cent have ADHD, 29 per cent have autism, 29 per cent are dyslexic and four per cent have OCD.

Some 65 per cent of the group have family members who are neurodivergent, and 34 per cent are carers for people who are neurodivergent.

Clare said: “In the survey we asked people what they liked best about the group.

“What came up time and again was the feeling of not being alone, that it’s not just me, that I’m not an odd one out.”

She added: “For so long people have struggled in a neurotypical world and thought they were just the struggles of life.

“It’s only now that were starting to realise.

“There are some things that people who are neurodivergent can do better than people who are neurotypical, and I want us to look at the qualities and skills people have got and what they can add, and not at the flaws.”

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June 2024