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      Trainee Firearms Officers

      Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Firearms Unit learned how to overcome communication barriers when dealing with potential armed suspects who are deaf or have a hearing loss

      During the training, our staff volunteered to act as potential armed suspects and to be arrested by armed police. Following the training, officers are now able to handle situations where communication barriers need to be overcome.

      Tailored to fit

      Sergeant Simon Smith from GMP Firearms Unit attended a taster Start to Sign training session – and was so impressed, he asked for a tailored course to be delivered at their training centre.

      This was a training course like no other. As part of the course, Simon asked if senior trainer, Tanvir Ahmed, would be prepared to take part in some role play with hearing colleague David Haughton. Simon wanted to see how firearms trainees reacted to situations where one of the potential armed suspects was deaf or experienced communication barriers.

      The volunteers were given two scenarios that were kept brief to avoid influencing the role play – the whole idea was to see how this progressed and how the trainees reacted to a dynamic situation with no knowledge of the suspect’s deafness.

      At the end of each scenario, both David and Tanvir provided useful feedback to the trainees and explained how they felt the arrests had been handled.

      The roleplay was followed by an afternoon session of deaf awareness training that focused on enhancing officers’ communication skills, including some basic sign language training.

      Looking to the future

      Commenting on the training, Simon stated: “The role play situation was extremely useful and I was very impressed with how the officers adapted their communication skills to deal with a totally unknown situation. Following evaluation of the training, we will be looking at different ways we can adapt it to our future training needs. Our training unit’s facilities allow us to adapt scenarios to different situations and environments. They are designed to test our trainees’ communication, policing and firearms skills and challenge them to adapt these to situations they may face in everyday policing environments.”

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