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Police and stammering

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This page does not apply outside Great Britain.
Last updated 26th March 2020 (part update 2nd November, 2023).

Police are normally subject to the Equality Act 2010, either under the rules on public functions (eg as regards questioning a suspect, or arresting someone) or on provision of services. It will not generally matter which rules apply.

Court of Appeal cases

ZH v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, Court of Appeal, 2013
An autistic boy had become ‘stuck’ at the side of a swimming pool, and jumped into the water when approached by police. He ended up being restrained by the police, and put in the cage at the back of a police van. The Court of Appeal upheld a decision that the police had failed to make reasonable adjustments, in breach of disability discrimination legislation. The police should have consulted the boy’s carers from the school (at least one carer was present the whole time), to inform themselves properly before taking any action which led to the application of force. Their treatment of him was also in breach of human rights law.

Finnigan v Northumbria Police, Court of Appeal, 2013
The Court of Appeal dismissed a claim for reasonable adjustments by a deaf person whose house was searched by the police. He argued they should have brought a sign language interpreter. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision that in this particular case it had been possible to establish effective communication, so there was no claim.

Talking with the police

Telling police about the stammer

It may well be a good idea to tell the police you have a stammer. This is firstly because the police will hopefully be less likely to see any stammering or nervousness as a sign of dishonesty, or a sign that you are drunk or on drugs.

Secondly a person has greater rights under the Equality Act if the police know they have a disability. For example ‘discrimination arising from disability’ only applies if the discriminator knew or ought reasonably to have known of the disability. Also the police may not know to make reasonable adjustments. See Knowledge of disability.

Some links aimed at police officers

Appearing in court

I have a separate page on Appearing in court.

Working as a police officer with a stammer

Examples of people who stammer in the police force are at Examples of jobs done by people who stammer>Police.


20th anniversary of stammeringlaw, 1999-2019