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Police responses to people with disability

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Police responses to people with disability


The Disability Royal Commission has published a report. It’s called ‘Police responses to people with disability.’

It was written by 4 academics from the University of New South Wales.

This video is a short summary of the report.

The report looks at:

  • police processes

  • the way police interact with people with disability

  • the way police respond to people with disability

  • how all this (the above) can be improved.

One of the methods used in this research involved talking to disability advocates and support people.


The report finds that often, police responses to people with disability – whether they are witnesses, victims or alleged offenders – are not adequate. This is because:

  • policing is the ‘default’ response to people with disability who experience disadvantage, like homelessness, poverty or violence   

  • there is less and less funding for other social and human services, eg counselling, social work, shelters, housing and mental health teams.

The report says that police should not be responding to people with disability who are disadvantaged.

This group should be getting a different response – one that is based in the community and social services, that is sensitive to their cultural needs and the trauma they have experienced.    

There should be more attention and money put into in things like:

  • housing

  • health

  • disability support

  • programs that divert people away from the criminal justice system if they into trouble, like the Cognitive Impairment Diversion Program

  • community initiatives that are led by Aboriginal people. For examples Indigenous Night Patrols are an alternative to the police and help keep First Nations people who are at-risk safe.

The report also says:

  • Independent disability responders’ should be available to all police services when interacting with a person with disability. This should be law, and these laws should be the same across all jurisdictions.

  • All police should be trained to recognise that a person might have disability. This training should be presented by people with disability.

  • Every police information system should be able to note and flag whether someone has disability.

The full report is on our website in the ‘Publications’ section.

For more information: