Programme for week commencing 18th July, 2012
Yvonne our Equality & Diversity Officer writes about how Autism Awareness is important in the Criminal Justice System:
National Overview – It is estimated that more than 500,000 people in the UK have autism, that is one person in every 100. This means in Wiltshire there could be as many as 4,500 individuals with autism. In January 2010 the Autism Act came into force. This was followed in March 2010 by the publication of the Government’s strategy ‘Fulfilling and rewarding lives: The strategy for adults with autism in England’.
Because of difficulty with social communication, interaction and imagination, people with autism can easily become involved with the Criminal Justice System, either as perpetrators, victims or witnesses, therefore one of the seven quality outcomes expected as a result of the implementation of the strategy is ‘Adults with autism are no longer managed inappropriately in the Criminal Justice System’.
Local Overview – The Wiltshire Autism Partnership was set up in 2009 with the purpose of improving the lives of people with autism. Supported by the Government’s strategy, The Autism Partnership developed a local strategy in 2010/11. A formal consultation was held between November 2011 and January 2012 and work is now underway to deliver the plan. In recognition of the need to engage with Criminal Justice agencies, representatives from the Police, Probation and Wiltshire Criminal Justice Board were invited to become involved. Since then, information produced by the Partnership has been circulated by the Wiltshire Criminal Justice Board, to Criminal Prosecution Service, Courts (HMCTS), Prisons (HMPS) and Police. One of our early eClub members, Dave King from the Swindon Advertiser, was very much involved in this initiative.
As part of the strategy implementation, the Wiltshire Autism Partnership decided to hold an away day. Numerous partners including those from the Criminal Justice System were invited to attend.
The purpose of the day was
- To develop an implementation plan, feeding into the Dept of Health self assessment process.
- To ensure there is good representation – or mechanisms for representation – to feed into the work of the autism partnership.
- To provide an opportunity to reflect and network.
Delegates included representatives from Wiltshire Council including social workers and service commissioners, National Health Service, Job Centre Plus, Carers, individuals with autism/Asperger’s, National Autistic Society and the WCJB. Actions identified broadly followed three themes, covering appropriate data, training and information, so as to be able to understand how the service is experienced by those with autism and to develop staff awareness of autism throughout the system.
How can Rotary help promote Autism Awareness on their International Day on the 2nd April 2013?
In Canada, they are developing a Rotary Autism Awareness Group. Is this something we could do, so that Rotary within their communities could help raise awareness of Autism? Yvonne is willing to help coordinate this initiative if members would be interested in taking this forward.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AT6C3JxivEU&w=480&h=360]
- What has been your personal awareness of Autism?
- We propose that on a date to be determined (before World Autism Day) the District 1100 eClub runs a workshop for Rotarians on Autism Awareness and asking that every Rotary Club in District 1100 tries to have an Autism Champion by the end of this Rotary Year 2012/13, would you be happy to support this?
- If this is an initiative we want to proceed with, what other actions can we take to help encourage Rotary to be more Autism Aware?