National Police Autism Association

NPAA logo
NPAA logo

The National Police Autism Association (NPAA) is an independent group supporting police officers, staff and volunteers who are affected by neurodivergent conditions such as autism (including Asperger syndrome), dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD.  We welcome all police personnel with a personal, family or professional interest in these conditions and currently have over 1,500 members across the UK.

Support we provide

As well as helping police forces support potential recruits and employees, we champion neurodiversity within policing, fostering a work culture where everyone’s strengths are valued and they can fulfil their potential. We offer our members:

  • A private web forum to discuss personal, work and service delivery issues in confidence
  • A network of ‘champions’ to provide local support in each force
  • 'Best practice’ advice for colleagues working with the autistic community
NPAA coordinators meeting

Questions you might have

It’s natural to have questions when taking any new step to become a police officer. The NPAA is here to ensure that your condition will always be respected within your role as a police officer. Take a look through our FAQs below.

What opportunities are there for me to progress within the police service?

There are many opportunities for you to progress. Examples include detective work, dog handling and response policing. Finding the right role will allow you to put your superior attention to detail, ability to retain facts and remember points of law, and your different approaches to problem-solving into practice. Find out more about career progression opportunities.

Will I be suited to a career in the police?

A career in the police can be very rewarding and there are many aspects of policing where a condition or disability will in no way hold you back. Particularly for some specialist roles in policing it can be a real advantage. However, it’s not for everyone and there are aspects of the job that might not be for you. Please come and talk to us so we can help discover the right role for you. Or you can speak directly to your force to find out what opportunities there are - this might include volunteering or a police staff (civilian) role. 

Will being autistic impact my application and what support is provided?

You’ll probably be asked to supply a report from your GP as part of the medical screening process and you will be required to pass an assessment. But reasonable adjustments can be put in place to make the process as fair as possible for you. Get in touch with the specific force you wish to join and they’ll be able to tell you more about the support they offer.

What support is available if I experience discrimination?

The police service does not accept any form of discrimination and is committed to supporting all its officers. There are robust processes in place to ensure all officers are protected, and if you or a colleague experience discrimination due to a neurodivergent condition, get in touch with us – we’re here to help.

Neurodivergent people bring great value to policing

Policing is an inclusive environment and neurodivergent staff will receive support and reasonable adjustments to help them thrive. The officers in this video talk about their individual experiences and journeys into policing. They address common myths associated with working in policing as officers with autism, and discuss the support they have received from colleagues and the wider institution.

View the full video transcript

Police Constable, Marcus Zost, Hertfordshire Constabulary

When initially joining the police, I had a few reservations regarding my autism and then some of the coping mechanisms that had to do with the role. But I was fully keen to do the role and do my best I can.

My names Marcus Zost, I’m a Police Constable for Hertfordshire Constabulary and I work as part of a Safer Neighbourhood Team.

I received my diagnosis about eight months ago for autism. I was diagnosed dyslexic when I was 21 and since getting the diagnosis, I’ve further started to understand myself and get more reasonable adjustments in place and the support there.

Sergeant Suzanne Burke, Metropolitan Police Service.

As far as women with autism goes, I mean I was born in the seventies, which possibly could be why autism wasn’t really thought of in relation to me, even though I did struggle as a child. And it is because there was a time when it was believed that women couldn’t be autistic.

My names Sergeant Suzanne Burke, I work for the Metropolitan Police in prosecutions and out-of-court disposals.

I was diagnosed with autism when I was 46. It began with a diagnosis of dyslexia and dyspraxia. People think sometimes that police officers can’t be autistic, or people with autism can’t be police officers. And it’s, you know, well I am a police officer and I have been for 20 years. But not just me, there’s a lot of us.

Police Constable, Marcus Zost, Hertfordshire Constabulary

The support that Hertfordshire Constabulary offer is they will give you laptops or give you programmes that will help you with spelling. Or there’s screens that they can put – so they can put coloured screens. Event audio and recording just for meetings. So there’s a lot of support there that can allow you to, if you struggle in one area, you can get the support you need. 

Superintendent Brigid Beehag-Fisher, Metropolitan Police Service.

We perhaps don’t know as much as we should which is, again, part of the reason I’m in this role working with Suzanne to try and really understand how we can work with our neurodivergent colleagues and how they can work with us.

Sergeant Suzanne Burke, Metropolitan Police Service.

Joining the police felt like coming home. With the discipline and code of conduct, it just satisfied my autistic needs.

Superintendent Brigid Beehag-Fisher, Metropolitan Police Service.

We need to make all our colleagues feel like they have a real part to play in policing. Neurodivergence is just part of that diversity.

Sergeant Suzanne Burke, Metropolitan Police Service.

Because I see things differently, I’m a great problem solver, so I can always think outside the box.

Police Constable, Marcus Zost, Hertfordshire Constabulary

I can see maybe crime patterns slightly differently, or I can recognise number plates very easily without having to write them down and that ability gives me a strength in that area. So, whereas some people might not see that, I see it.

The nature of policing, we have to reflect the public we serve. And so policing is very reflective of the diversity that you see I society.

Police Constable, Marcus Zost, Hertfordshire Constabulary

So my advice would be for anyone that’s got a neurodiverse condition applying for the police, would be apply. There’s nothing stopping you. you come with the skills and abilities that the police need.   

Video ends with the National Police Autism Assocation and Be the Difference police recruitment campaign logos.

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