"I am passionate about encouraging reporting of all crimes, which can have a dramatic effect on disabled people in our communities. As one of the Disability advocates I have been keen to work with community groups to take on board their views on the barriers to communications to ensure that we improve in this area. The Hidden in Plain Sight Report makes for uncomfortable reading, harassment shouldn't be a part of everyday life for disabled people, and we must take steps to reverse the culture of disbelief and ensure that the abuse is tackled, with victims given the necessary support and confidence to report issues to us. I am keen to build on the work that has already been started in the force, and ensure that we progress in delivering the best possible service."

Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw, Equality Champion for Disability and Mental Health Equality work in Sussex Police. He works alongside Equality Advocate for Mental Health Diane Lewis and Staff network co-chairs for Disability and Carers Superintendent Simon Nelson & Jen Holloway.


  • To provide a policing service that is accessible for people with disabilities and those experiencing mental ill health
  • To understand the policing related issues which most affect people with disabilities and mental ill health
  • To recognise where disability and mental ill health is a common factor amongst victims of specific crime types and provide an appropriate level of support and preventative action
  • To create an organisational culture that supports people with disabilities, mental ill health and those which have caring responsibilities in the workplace

Our work in this area

As a public service

One of the priority areas in service delivery for Disability and Mental Health Equality is tackling hate crime  and encouraging reporting. Gaining insight on public experiences is central to developing our approach. A key part of this work involves engaging with people in our communities through our Disability Engagement Officers, with local partners, and regular consultation with our external Disability Advisory Group*. The group has helped to inform a range of policing activities and policies, and assist in the design and co-delivery of Disability Engagement Officer awareness days.

*If you would like to help Sussex police improve its service by becoming a member of the Disability Advisory Group email us at [email protected]

Disability Engagement Officers (DEO)

The role of DEO was developed in 2011 throughout Sussex. Similar to other liaison officer roles, they receive specialist inputs to raise their knowledge and understanding, and create awareness in physical and learning disabilities. DEOs act as a point of contact for disabled communities and individuals, building relations to increase trust, confidence and encourage reporting of crime.

As an employer

The diversity staff support group for Disability is called Enable. This is led by the chair Jen Holloway. Enable provide support for carer's and disabled employees in the workplace and is a network to identify organisational challenges and opportunities. Enable also supports the organisation by challenging our policies and processes which relate to disability.

If you work at Sussex Police and would like to become a member of Enable, email us at [email protected]

This video was produced in partnership with Autism Sussex, as an awareness tool for our colleagues.

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