Anyone with any form of visual impairment can use the verification protocol, which is made possible by the Police Contact Centre, either over the phone or by the attending officer using an agreed password.
There are two instances when the protocol can be used. The first is when someone with a visual impairment, rings 101 or 999 to ask for police attendance at their address. In this scenario, a password is chosen during the call and the officer who calls at the address will use this password to verify their identity.
The second scenario is when someone with a visual impairment needs to verify the identity of a police officer who is calling at their address although they have not dialled 101 or 999 to request police attendance. Whether it’s a planned visit or not, the occupant can call 101 and give details provided by the officer to the police call handler to verify their identity.
Carers and anyone who provides support to someone who is visually impaired can also use the service.
Details about the Visual Impairment Protocol are being distributed to people across Merseyside who are visually impaired, by councils and other organisations including charities.
All police employees (including those in uniform) carry an identification or warrant card, but it can be difficult for someone with a visual impairment to make out details of a uniform or to see a photograph or details on a card.
Superintendent Mark Wiggins of Merseyside Police described the protocol as an extra layer of security and assurance for potentially vulnerable people. He said: “The person with the visual impairment is safeguarded by verifying the identity of the police officer, before letting them into the premises. This verification is facilitated by our contact centre, either over the phone or by the attending officer using an agreed password.
“Similar initiatives have been implemented by other forces across the UK and we have adapted the protocol for use in Merseyside. Examples of good practice like this are shared between forces at a national level and we recognised the protocol’s potential to enhance our accessibility and support for vulnerable members of the community.”
He added: “The partnership approach taken to develop the Visual Impairment Protocol for use in Merseyside is a good example of preventative policing. It’s about problem solving and reducing the risk to vulnerable members of the community becoming a victim of a bogus caller who purports to be a police officer.”
Simple but effective
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “It’s vitally important that police officers and staff who go to the door of a victim or witness are able to identify themselves.
“This simple but effective process provides greater security and safeguarding for visually-impaired members of our community, ensuring they can have confidence that the person coming to the door is who they say they are and can be trusted.”
“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped to introduce this worthwhile scheme here in Merseyside and I would urge anyone who knows someone with a visual impairment to let them know about this useful protocol.”