Here some of the questions we’re frequently asked. This page is a ‘work in progress’ – follow us on Twitter for updates on new Q&As as we add them.
If you have any ideas for questions and/or answers to include, get in touch with us via the Contact page.
Important! – if you need advice on employment law, speak to a solicitor, Federation or union rep – they are qualified to advise you on legal matters.
Disability Support Networks (DSNs) are voluntary networks and are usually led independently of the employer by an organisation’s employees. A support network represents the interests of its members – in the case of DSNs, these are employees who are disabled, ill or injured, carers for others, or those with an interest in such matters. In policing, membership of a DSN is open to serving officers, police staff, volunteers and in some cases those who have retired from service.
DSNs may be run by a single volunteer or team, typically a network Chair with an Executive Committee, drawn from all ranks, grades and roles.
As networks represent the interests, concerns and opinions of people with a protected characteristic, network leads are usually able to raise concerns and suggested workplace improvements with the Chief Constable and senior officers on behalf of the membership. Some DSNs also offer direct peer-to-peer support or signposting to members to provide support, advice and guidance for a range of matters, including specific health conditions and rights under the Equality Act, such as the application of reasonable adjustments.
DSNs are an effective resource for advice and support, and champion organisational and cultural change.
The role of a DSN is not to replace the professional employment advice offered by the Police Federation or police unions, but is supplementary to these services, often working in conjunction to provide advice and guidance from a view point of ‘lived experience’. DSNs will not provide legal advice, this should be sought in consultation with the Police Federation or your union.
Why doesn’t my Force have a disability support network? Where can I go to for help with my disability/condition?
If there is no DSN within your Force, it is likely that a previous network has become dormant or there has been a shortage of volunteers to set up a new network. If you or a colleague are considering setting up a DSN, the DPA can provide you with advice and support – get in touch with us for more details.
If you don’t have an active DSN in your Force, you can always get confidential advice from your Force’s Occupational Health and Welfare departments. The Federation and police unions are also on hand to advise on employment law in relation to your disability/condition, and there are a variety of other support groups and charities which can assist you. (For example, the NPAA provides direct support for autism and other neurodiverse conditions within the police service.)
The DPA can help with individual queries, however be aware that we receive many requests for assistance and there may be a delay in replying to you. You should always contact your Force DSN in the first instance. Click on the Contact page for more details.
We recommend that you register as a member of the DPA – it’s free and you will get access to regular disability and wellbeing-related updates and news.