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South Yorkshire Police: dedication to diversity and inclusion

Discover how South Yorkshire police serve their staff with the highest level of support through Read&Write.

South Yorkshire Police provides safety and security for over 1.2 million people, with a workforce of 5200. As one of the most diverse Force's in the UK, they have a robust diversity and inclusion programme in place, that ensures provision of support to the needs of every one of their employees.

Having been recommended Read&Write by Access to Work, South Yorkshire Police found that providing the software via an Enterprise License offered best value for money. And allows them to serve their staff with the highest level of support. 

Outcomes

  • The Force were originally recommended Read&Write through the Access to Work Scheme. Between a choice of Read&Write or Dragon, their end users preferred Read&Write stating, "does everything Dragon does, but with many more functions”
  • Today, the Force provide Read&Write to all their employees through an Enterprise License. It offers them best value for money compared to single licenses via the Access to Work Scheme. They state "the cost dropped by 93%"
  • Read&Write is helping every employees with "functions that are very useful for all our staff and officers, regardless of disability"

The background

Formed in 1974, and with a rich history encapsulating the whole of the South Yorkshire population across four districts - Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley and Sheffield - South Yorkshire Police provides safety and security for over 1.2 million people. 

With a current, growing workforce of over 5200, including Police Officers, Special Constables, Volunteers and Police Staff amongst its ranks, it is the most improved Force in the United Kingdom, and is also one of the more diverse - a reflection of the communities and geographies it serves.

This is perhaps no better represented than in the force’s culture of equality, diversity and inclusion. With a robust programme in place that caters to everyone’s needs, South Yorkshire Police has built a thriving network for its employees that provides support no matter their strengths, challenges, abilities or disabilities. 

Interestingly, neurodiverse conditions account for the majority of support requests and workplace accommodations within the force, with dyslexia being the most prominent condition exhibited, according to South Yorkshire Police’s Diversity & Inclusion Lead. So much so, in fact, that the force put in place a dedicated, standalone scheme to assist those with dyslexia. 

“We have our own in-house dyslexia assessors, an initiative which commenced in 2018. All employees can self-refer for a dyslexia evaluation. We also offer dyslexia screening to all new ‘bulk’ recruits, such as Student Officers, Call Handlers and Investigating Officers” they explain.

The challenge

Noting the high percentage of staff with dyslexia and other diverse cognitive needs, a programme was implemented that provides continuous, dedicated support, including the distribution of assistive technology through the Access to Work scheme. This however, was not without its hurdles. 

As a public sector organization, South Yorkshire Police are subject to rigorous financial, as well as cultural scrutiny and accountability, so they needed to get the best value for money while providing staff with the highest level of support. 

“Assistive technology software had always been provided to our staff, previously via the Access to Work scheme. Read&Write was recommended by Access to Work, alongside Dragon. We found that there was no need for two different software applications - for us, ReadWrite does everything Dragon does, but with many more functions”, the Diversity & Inclusion Lead commented.

While SYP found that even though the support offered by Read&Write was wide-ranging and effective, the mechanism in which it was delivered  - via Access to Work - meant that fiscally speaking, the force wasn’t getting the best value for money, despite getting the best software for their users’ unique needs. 

Texthelp were contacted directly and the conversation about an Enterprise license began, "End users were consulted and found they all liked Read&Write rather than Dragon. Once Texthelp had visited and presented to us, we realized the wider benefits”.

The solution

Rather than rely on a series of ad-hoc single licenses via the Access to Work scheme, SYP realized the potential to not only save money for South Yorkshire Police, but to complement the force’s culture of inclusion with the option of making Read&Write available to every member of staff for a much more agreeable price point - a decision supported by South Yorkshire Police’s senior leadership. 

The force’s D&I Lead continued:

“Generally, there was full support in choosing Read&Write. Texthelp really helped by providing case studies, to assist me in compiling a paper for our Senior Leadership Group to consider. From a client’s point of view, there is 100% support and enthusiasm for ReadWrite.”

From there, choosing Read&Write on an Enterprise License basis became an easy decision. “The cost dropped by 93% moving to an Enterprise License as opposed to a single user license. The time frame for providing assistive software has dropped from up to 12 months, to seconds! This has also reduced the admin burden of applying for and ordering the software”, they added.

More than having a positive impact financially and culturally, Read&Write’s seamless integration and innovative features are also making a mark on day-to-day productivity - “Not only is Read&Write our assistive software of choice, but many of the functions are very useful for all our staff and officers, regardless of disability. Because we now have an Enterprise license, staff and officers can download the software from their own software centers.”

It's not very often one finds assistive software that is as useful for non-disabled individuals as it is for those with a disability. In our case, Read&Write has not only proved transformative for our dyslexic colleagues, but also opened a door onto functions that allow everyone across the force to benefit.

Lasting value

Widely available for all staff to freely download and use as they see fit, Read&Write has slotted neatly and effectively into the forces wider Diversity & Inclusion programme - a factor that has seen existing and even new recruits recognize that South Yorkshire Police are committed to welcoming and supporting all.

“By informing our new recruits that we have a dedicated support network (SYP 4D – Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia), alongside the freely available multi-site Read&Write, the recruitment team have noticed an increase in applicants declaring disability. A number of workshops have been held across the Force, raising awareness of dyslexia, dispelling myths and increasing confidence in self-referring for an evaluation” the D&I Lead said.

With the software now in place and all staff well aware of its benefits and supporting feature-set, South Yorkshire Police are confident that the Read&Write Enterprise license continues to have a lasting impact for those who use it, day in and day out.

The Read&Write Enterprise license has been an overall positive experience” they remarked “Dyslexic staff and officers can access the software instantly. Others can choose to download it for any number of reasons, including using the software to become more productive, accurate and, ultimately, engaged with the organization.”  

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