Ballarat police have been recognised for "outstanding police service to people with disability" through the Independent Third Person program.
Ballarat Police Station and its members were recognised through The Public Advocate's 2020 Regional Award after being nominated by the volunteers who take part in the ITP program.
Inspector Dan Davison explained that when a youth or adult living with disability comes into contact with police and a parent or guardian cannot be present to assist them through the justice process, a volunteer through the ITP program can be contacted to ensure the person is not disadvantaged.
Whether the person is a suspect, offender, witness or a victim of crime, an ITP helps to facilitate communication between the person and police and to ensure the person understands the situation and the questions they are being asked.
Independent of the police process, they can also help the person understand their rights though they cannot provide legal advice.
Inspector Davison said the award recognised that Ballarat police treated people with disability and the volunteers of the ITP program who assist them with professionalism, respect, understanding and compassion.
A large number of interviews have been conducted in the Ballarat region with the assistance of an ITP, who he described as "invaluable" to everybody experiencing a fair process.
Noting police were humbled by the award, he said it proved every member of the community, including the most vulnerable, could feel comfortable that they would be treated with respect when they come into contact with police.
"What it tells me is that the members in Ballarat live our organisational values every day, regardless of race, creed, sexuality or background," he said.
Regardless of whether a person is classed as vulnerable, he said typically anyone who seeks assistance from or comes into contact with police was vulnerable.
"So it's only right they are treated with respect, dignity and empathy.
It is the expectation that our members, no matter what job they go to in the community, will treat people with the utmost respectInspector Dan Davison
"I'm confident members of the Ballarat community will always be treated in line with our key organisational values - respect, integrity, leadership, support, professionalism, flexibility and safety.
"Respect relates to our workforce internally and externally. It is the expectation that our members, no matter what job they go to in the community, will treat people with the utmost respect."
He said he was "proud" of local police for doing all they could to "provide the greatest service we can in line with community safety".
The ITP program is run through the Office for the Public Advocate.
Now in its fifth year, the Public Advocate awards recognise police members, employees and units that make an outstanding contribution to improving outcomes for people with disability and delivering a police service that is responsive, inclusive and accessible.
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