A Sergeant from Leicestershire Police is travelling to Malaysia with the charity, DeafKidz International, to speak at a conference about protecting deaf children in poorer countries from abuse and sexual violence.
Sergeant Emma Gilbert manages the Police Link Officers for Deaf People, or PLOD, which has just won a national award for making significant progress in improving access to the police service for people who are Deaf, deafened, Hard of Hearing or Deafblind in Leicestershire.
Because of Sergeant Gilbert’s high profile work within the Deaf community she has been asked to address a conference organised by the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) about, ‘addressing the challenge of abuse against deaf children in low resource settings.’ Abuse among children in poorer countries is rarely addressed because victims lack the communication skills to report what has happened. This, coupled with a lack of access to qualified sign language interpreters and police systems, means they also don’t get the clinical and psychological welfare support they need.
Sergeant Gilbert will talk about the work she has done with DeafKidz International – a non-governmental organisation which works to respond to the needs of Deaf children and young people at risk from abuse in all its forms including sexual, physical, emotional abuse and neglect. At their invitation, Sgt. Gilbert went to South Africa earlier this year to devise a strategy to develop the capability of Childline South Africa to better respond to the needs of these vulnerable young people. While she was there she met representatives from the South African Police Service, Social Services, Childline South Africa and other members of the criminal justice system.
The costs of the visit are being met by DeafKidz International as Executive Director, Steve Crump, explains; “The PLOD contribution to our work in South Africa has been immense and we have been able to make great progress in developing a strategy for work with Childline South Africa. An approach we’re hoping to replicate in Kenya and Zimbabwe. The PLOD initiative is one that is eyed jealously by many around the world”.
Emma flies out to Malaysia this weekend and she said: “I am very honoured to be asked to speak at this international conference and share our experiences here in Leicestershire and the work we did earlier this year in South Africa. It is often very difficult for young people and children to report abuse but imagine what it must be like if you can’t make yourself understood. The result is that there are too many young people across the world suffering in silence.
“I hope other countries will learn from our experience. I would love to see PLOD officers in every police force in every country.”