Autism charities ask the Home Secretary to clarify guidance with police
Published on 07 May 2020
Despite rules on when autistic people can go out during the coronavirus outbreak being clarified, we have still heard from people who have been stopped by police when they are out for a walk. We have written to the Home Secretary with other autism charities to ask her to make sure all police know the rules say autistic people can go out more than once a day if they need to for their wellbeing.
We will update the website with more information when we hear back from the Home Secretary.
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During the coronavirus outbreak, we want to make sure we continue to raise issues like this one that are affecting autistic people and their families with the Government. If you would like to share your story or any experiences you think we need to talk to the Government about, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the clarified rules on going out
Back in March, When the lockdown started, the Government said no one could leave their home for exercise more than once a day, and that they had to stay close to home. We had hundreds of people get in touch with telling us how difficult this was because of the disruption this was causing to their everyday routine.
The Government’s new guidance for autistic people on going out
We raised this with the Government, and told them how important it is for autistic people and their families to get outside for exercise. We know that sometimes autistic people might need to go further away from their home to get out, because it’s quieter, or go out more than once a day, because that’s really important for their mental wellbeing. Lots of other campaigners raised this too, and some people started legal action.
The Government listened, and in early April, the Department of Health and Social Care amended the national guidance – saying that autistic people can go out more than once a day and that they can travel outside of their usual area if they need to so that they can get out. This new guidance also said that if you need carers with you, they don’t have to stay two metres away from you.
This was a really important step, but we also wanted to make sure that police officers – who are making sure that the public is sticking to the social distancing rules – understand that there are exceptions for autistic people. We’d heard from a number of autistic people and their families that the police were challenging them for being outside, even though the guidance said this is okay. And we told the Government that they needed to tell police officers what they should – and shouldn’t – be doing.
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