Police are trained in sign language
Police officers have learned the basics of sign language so they can communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The officers, who are working toward completing level one of British Sign Language (BSL), will be called in when a colleague encounters someone whose hearing is impaired.
The officers will also help the force forge better links with relevant charities and community groups.
The volunteers include beat officers, detectives, PCSOs and one person who works on the front inquiry desk at a police station.
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Chief Inspector Rich Keenan, who is overseeing the project, hopes other officers will have the training, provided by Action Deafness in Leicester.
Ch Insp Keenan, who is learning the rudiments of BSL, said: "We have officers who speak languages such as Hindi, Gujarati and Polish. People who are deaf or hard of hearing have the same rights as anyone else to be able to communicate with police and expect us to be able to understand them.
"The officers have been studying mostly in their own time since January and their aim is to become as fluent as they can.
"They will be on our system as having this language skill and, if it is felt they will be able to help colleagues, will be called in. At the moment it's a handful of officers, but it's a start and something we want to build on."
Lauren Metcalfe, manager of Action Deafness, based at the Peepul centre, Belgrave, said: "We're really pleased the police have got on board with this.
"Deafness is often referred to as the invisible disability.
"It's often assumed that because people can see and read there are no problems communicating, but there are still significant barriers there."
The officers attended a consultation event at force headquarters in Enderby last night to mark National Deafness Awareness Week, which began on Monday.
Action Deafness runs regular courses in BSL. For more information, call 0116 253 3200.