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Identifying vulnerability – new guidelines to support police

Published on 18 November 2021
The guidelines provide a framework to ensure vulnerable people receive appropriate help during interactions with the police
3 mins read
Two uniformed police officers facing away

We've published new guidelines to help anyone working in policing to spot and respond to vulnerable people.

The recognising and responding to vulnerability-related risks guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations for police officers, staff, special constables and volunteers. They contain practical support to help:

  • recognition of individuals at risk of harm
  • increase opportunities to gather information about a person’s situation
  • increase understanding of vulnerabilities

There is also a guideline for chief officers that sets out the organisational support needed for their officers and staff to be effective in their roles.

Head of Crime and Criminal Justice at the College of Policing, David Tucker, said:

The guidelines deliver practical operational advice for officers and staff to be professionally curious when attending incidents or gathering information and evidence during investigations. 

This will provide a better understanding of vulnerabilities and encourage officers to consider the whole picture of risk. This is particularly important as policing continues to drive forward work to improve our response to violence against women and girls.

It is important to recognise that the police are just one part of a broader system responsible for protecting vulnerable people. It is vital that senior leaders across the system work together to make sure that people needing help get it from the professionals with the right skills.

David Tucker, Head of Crime and Criminal Justice, College of Policing

The committee that developed the guidelines strongly supported the articulation of clearer roles, responsibilities and parameters for policing and other organisations in responding to vulnerability-related risks and harm. This has already been considered in other areas of public protection, for example, missing persons or when considering the police response to mental ill-health.

The guidelines were developed following an extensive public consultation and are underpinned by the Code of Ethics. They can also be used in conjunction with other vulnerability-related initiatives.

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