4 December 2019
The College of Policing is to review its policy around Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) tests.
At present, officers who suffer from CVD often lose the opportunity to carry Taser but in future they could be eligible to take functional test – this would be fairer, less discriminatory and could open the door for more officers to be equipped with Taser.
National Vice-Chair Ché Donald has welcomed the announcement from the College as a "massive leap forward". He said: "we are pushing for a wider roll out of Taser. It will save lives or prevent officers receiving life changing injuries – in over 90% of encounters where Taser is introduced it results in de-escalation – so the red dot alone diffuses 90% of violent incidents. Our survey data shows that 76% of officers are 'always or almost always single crewed' and we also know there is a significant increase in assaults against police officers, so we need to ensure they are properly equipped to do their job effectively. Taser is part of that regardless of whether you have CVD."
CVD affects one in 12 men and one in 200 women. We support a functional test for officers who fail a colour vision test as a sensible way forward. We feel the existing College of Policing test is not fair, valid or reliable. This piece of work is being driven by our National Firearms and Taser Lead Steve Hartshorn.
He said: "Police officers with CVD are just as vulnerable to acts of violence against them as any other. There is a genuine need to remove the requirement for a CVD test for what many see as essential police equipment. If they are in the job, they should be allowed to perform the full range of policing duties open to everyone."
Up to 20% of officers are currently trained in the use of conducted energy devices (CEDs) but chief officers are starting to equip more and more.
We are working with a St Albans-based optician which is the sole UK distributor for EnChroma lenses which are proving 'transformative' for some officers with CVD. It should be noted that these do not cure colour vision and the enhancing capabilities vary from person to person. Current CVD testing does not allow for colour correcting lenses to be used while undertaking the test.
The December 2019 edition of POLICE magazine will carry an extended feature on officers with CVD.