This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Scratch and Sniff?! / 1 May 2009

So what happens when an armed police officer shouts at a Deaf person to stop?! Well, apparently because a Deaf person is part of the ‘special population groups’ or SPG’s for short, we are assured that the officer in question will not shoot first and ask questions afterwards. His “special training” will come in to play and everything will be OK.

SPG’s by the way are “a group of people who do not behave in an expected, rational manner as a result of some form of mental impairment (either permanent or temporary)… Similar issues may be encountered when there are communication difficulties, such as when the subject is deaf or has a different first language.” Or, presumably has an impairment that means they use a different method of communication.

Makes you wonder what sort of training armed police officers go through to achieve this level of awareness doesn’t it. Deaf people must obviously look different, or perhaps smell different enough for your average gun totting copper to recognise that they’re not in fact ignoring them deliberately, it’s just ‘cause they’re ‘special’. Perhaps they have a scratch and sniff section in their training manual in order to perfect this skill (wonder what wheelchair users smell like?!)

I understand that the Police Complaints Commission is sufficiently worried about the problem though to raise it as a concern regarding the safety of innocent Deaf people in an armed response situation.

What do all you other SPG’s out there think?



1 June 2009

Surely I seem to recall at Not The 9'oclock News sketch with a reference to the SPG ...

Anyone else remember? or am I just too old?

As I remember it the the SPG in the 80's stood for Special Patrol Group, a riot squad allegedly (please note, allegedly) renowned for their racial intolerance.


9 May 2009

Thanks for your comment Mike ... it's given me the idea of requesting a bullet proof blue badge next time!

Mike Fryer

9 May 2009

I have often wondered about that. What would happen if a police officer aimed a gun at me in my car and told me to get out! It would be difficult to explain that I am disabled and that my wheelchair is stored in a huge box on the roof of the car which would have to be opened up and my chair lowered to the ground before I could get out the car. Even leaning over to get my Blue Badge to wave at him/her could precipitate action against me - perhaps a bullet!

Probably the best way would be to pretend to be deaf so the police officer would know what to do, given they are highly trained in this. But is it illegal to pretend to be deaf? Perhaps they would start using sign language - I wouldn't have a clue what they were saying and would probably get shot as a 'deaf' foreign terrorist?

Come to think of it, pretending to be deaf would be good cover for a terrorist...

If it wasn't so serious this would be the stuff of nightmares or a 'B' movie - as it is, it's reality in 21st Century England where innocent people get shot dead.


1 May 2009

NO Jonesy. I'm not suggesting that Deaf people smell - read the blog again!!