Surrey Police and Sussex Police have been jointly recognised for their ongoing actions in recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

The two police forces were re-accredited in January as Disability Confident Leaders by the government’s Disability Confident scheme, which supports employers to make the most of the talents that disabled people can bring to a workplace. More than 20,000 organisations have signed up to date.

In 2018, Surrey Police and Sussex Police were among the first police forces to achieve the Level 3 ‘Leader’ award – the highest level possible – and the Department for Work and Pensions have now confirmed this status for a further three years.

Being Disability Confident Leaders means the two forces act as champions and take an active leadership role within their local communities, encouraging and supporting other employers (including suppliers and partner organisations) to become Disability Confident.

The award also sends a message to people with disabilities that Surrey and Sussex Police aim to be truly inclusive and supportive employers. 

Both forces are members of the Business Disability Forum, a not-for-profit organisation that helps employers to create a disability-smart world.

Surrey and Sussex Police actively look to attract disabled people, providing a fully inclusive and accessible recruitment process. They proactively offer and make reasonable adjustments as required.

A Disability Guidance Toolkit provides line managers with knowledge, information and confidence in how to work effectively and fairly with individuals who have a disability. Surrey and Sussex Police also ensure that all employees have sufficient disability equality awareness training.

Chief Supt Justin Burtenshaw, Disability Equality Champion at Sussex Police, said: “Equality, diversity and inclusion are central to everything we do.

“We are very proud that our Leader status on the government’s Disability Confidence scheme has been recognised and renewed for a further three years.

“Through this award and by using the Disability Confident logo we demonstrate our joint vision of being employers of choice for people with disabilities.

“We aim to ensure people with disabilities and long-term health conditions feel able to pursue a career with the police, are treated fairly and have access to ongoing support once they are in post.

“There will always be more to do, but we are pleased that the government has validated the work we are doing and the progress we have made.”

Chief Inspector Dave Mitchell, Disability Champion at Surrey Police, said: “Whilst we are immensely proud of our achievements so far, our work doesn’t stop there.

“We will continue to work to remove barriers and increase understanding for current and future colleagues, both with visible and non-visible disabilities. We must ensure that staff and officers who have disabilities or long-term health conditions are supported and have the opportunities to fulfil their full potential and our forces are reflective of the communities we serve.”

Following re-accreditation, which was independently validated by the Business Disability Forum, Surrey and Sussex Police will continue to explore opportunities to support people with disabilities and those with disabilities who are carers.