A survey of the workplace experiences of police force employees who are autistic and/or have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
There has been little focus on autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in occupational groups, particularly in high-demand roles such as the police.
To describe the characteristics and experiences of UK-based police force employees who are autistic and/or have ADHD, including the benefits and challenges their conditions bring to their occupation, their need for reasonable adjustments, and their co-occurring mental illnesses.
An online survey was developed, containing both quantitative and qualitative elements. Survey invitations were disseminated through the National Police Autism Association. The survey was open from 23 April to 23 July 2022.
A total of 117 participants participated in the survey, including 66 who were autistic and 51 with ADHD. Participants who were autistic and/or had ADHD widely reported both benefits and challenges related to their condition(s) in policing work. Both the autistic and ADHD groups widely reported having requested workplace adjustments related to their condition(s), although these were frequently not made. Anxiety (n = 57; 49%) and depression (n = 40; 36%) were both highly prevalent among the participants.
The qualitative findings identified four themes: (a) motivations for taking on this career, (b) rewards of the role, (c) challenges of the job and (d) challenges regarding career progression.
Police force employees who are autistic and/or have ADHD reported that their conditions provided both benefits and challenges with respect to policing work, and that they had requested related workplace adjustments, although such adjustments frequently do not take place. Healthcare professionals need to recognise the importance of workplace considerations and advocacy for people who are autistic and/or have ADHD.
Author affiliationDepartment of Population Health Sciences, University of Leicester
- VoR (Version of Record)