Police Link Officers for Deaf People (PLOD) and Video Relay Services in the East Midlands: What Works and Best Practice


Dr Karen Lumsden, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University

Dr Alex Black, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University

Police force / partners collaborating: Detective Sergeant Emma Gilbert, Leicestershire Police (PLOD Manager)



Forces such as Leicestershire Police now have groups of police officers and police staff, from across the force, who have received training in deaf awareness and are skilled in the use of British Sign Language at different levels. Police Link Officers for Deaf People (PLOD) use their skills in providing a service for any non-emergency situation when communication support is required as a point of contact.

In addition, various forces now utilize Video Relay Services to assist deaf people who are contacting the police. However at present different forces utilize different providers and little is known about their use and best practice. This project will focus on how forces in the East Midlands utilize video relay services, providing recommendations on best practice to assist forces in communication and support provided to deaf people in their contact with the emergency services

As Koper et al. (2009: 5) argue “there is a need for more evaluation research to provide police with better evidence on which technologies are most valuable and cost-effective for law enforcement uses” and also which will better support deaf people in their interactions and contact with police forces.


Research questions

  • How effective are the different Video Relay Services utilised by forces in the region?
  • What are the barriers/facilitators encountered when using the service?
  • What does best practice currently look like in relation to the use of Video Relay Services?



  • Formative evaluation
  • Interviews with officers
  • Focus groups with community members who are deaf or hard of hearing



Project plan summary Proposed timeframe

Meetings and collaborative project planning and evaluation tool development with Emma Gilbert (Leicestershire Police)


Sept 16


Data collection tool development


Sept 16


Fieldwork and data collection


Oct 16 – Jan 17


Analysis of findings


Jan 17


Writing up of report and presentation of results to police forces, and on EMPAC Knowledge Hub.


Jan – Feb 17


Research completed


March 17