This week is Essex Sensory Awareness Week and the county’s police kicked off by celebrating the work by officers and staff by helping the most vulnerable people.

Almost 350,000 people in Essex are living with either sight or hearing loss, with 15 per cent of residents having an impairment.

New statistics also show that the county will have the largest sensory impaired community in the country.

Faye Gatenby, head of Essex Cares Limited, has worked for 20 years within Essex Sensory Services with a strong focus improving access through partnership working.

She said: “It is clear Essex Police has a strong commitment to ensuring new and serving officers were as accessible as possible to their local communities. “Communication can be a significant barrier for people with sensory impairments and our training supports officers to understand how to overcome these barriers.”

Ms Gatenby has been working closely with the Public Engagement Team to create a training programme after listening to sensory impaired people who had been victims of crime.

“Practical exercises such as lip-reading and sight and hearing simulation help officers to gain an in depth understanding of the different types of sight and or hearing loss and the confidence to provide appropriate support.

“I have been very impressed with the recognition of the value and need for this training and I’m proud of the partnership between ECL Sensory Service and Essex Police.”

The week follows a successful partnership between Public Engagement and Service Improvement Team and Essex Cares Limited (ECL), a company helping train 500 student officers.

This means these officers, which is owned by Essex County Council, can use the skills they have learnt to help people with impairments and their families.

Training includes understanding the different types of working dogs, white canes, hearing equipment and the significance of these to an individual’s mobility, independence and safety.

A pilot of the training has also taken place with a group of nominated front line staff and officers and we are currently in discussions with ECL to roll it out to all employees.

For more information visit: