Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 16:02 UK

Police create autistic help card

Autism card
Ross Ford was the first person to receive a card

A Hampshire police employee with an autistic nephew has developed a card autistic people can carry to help stop police misinterpreting odd behaviour.

Cliff Parker's scheme has been rolled out across Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

The card shows the carrier's name along with contact details of people who will be able to advise officers on how best to respond to that person's needs.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, can apply for the Autism Alert Card.

Ross Ford, who has Asperger's Syndrome and lives in Southampton, was the first person to receive a card when the project launched on Tuesday.

He said: "I think it's a brilliant idea, especially for those people with autism whose communications skills perhaps aren't as good as mine.

People with autism can come into contact with the police in any number of ways, as a victim, suspect or witness
Cliff Parker

"I've not been confronted by a policeman before. If I was, I would do my best to give as much detail to the officer to explain what happened.

"I think the card will give people with autism the confidence they need."

Mr Parker works for Hampshire Constabulary's diverse communities unit and has responsibility for disability.

He said: "People with autism can come into contact with the police in any number of ways, as a victim, suspect or witness, for example.

"The cards are important because there is always the risk that someone who doesn't fully understand autism could misinterpret an individual's actions.

"That could lead to that individual being wrongly identified as an offender."

The project is a joint initiative between Hampshire Constabulary and Hampshire Autistic Society (HAS).

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