|PCSO Aileen Stewart - 2nd from right, with colleagues from Dyfed Powys Police, PAVO and Mid & West Wales Fire Service|
In May I met Police Community Support Officer Aileen Stewart at the Dementia Information Day in Newtown during Dementia Awareness Week. Aileen gave me an update about the Pegasus communication scheme used by police officers in the Dyfed Powys force area, and it seemed like a blog post would provide the ideal opportunity to share the information with a wider audience to further promote the scheme’s use.
First tell us a little about yourself and your role in Dyfed Powys Police
I am PCSO Aileen Stewart and I work within the Neighbourhood Policing team in Newtown. I have worked as a PCSO for five years.
As a PCSO we have various duties including high visibility patrols, public reassurance, safeguarding our community, gathering intelligence and dealing with anti-social behaviour. We also work closely with local agencies, for example housing, mental health services and voluntary services to deal with issues and solve problems, for example neighbourhood disputes.
What is the Pegasus scheme?
The Pegasus scheme is a service for people who live and/or work in the Dyfed Powys Police area aimed at those whose disability or illness makes it difficult for them to communicate when calling or speaking face to face to the Police.
It’s designed to make it easier to contact Dyfed Powys Police quickly and easily on both the 101 and 999 numbers.
How does Pegasus work?
Registering for the scheme is free. Once a person is registered and their selected password is approved the individual becomes a member of the scheme. The information will be stored securely.
Pegasus is really simple. The caller will only have to say ‘Pegasus’ and give their password to be identified by the call handlers.
The call handlers will then have access to details of the person calling – full name, home address, contact details for family member/support worker, and how best to communicate with the caller – this information will also be available to the incident handlers who can advise the officers on route to the call of the nature of the caller’s disabilities and how best to communicate with the caller.
Pegasus users will also be provided with a Pegasus key fob to carry. If they speak to Police Officers or PCSOs and find it difficult to communicate they can show this card, provide the officer with their password and they will be informed via radio of the person's details.
How would Pegasus work for people experiencing a mental health crisis?
The person calling would only have to concentrate on telling us what is happening once they have used their password and confirmed their details.
The call handler will have all the caller's personal information and be able to communicate with the caller in the way which they have said will help them or contact the family member/support worker that has been provided.
The attending officers will then be fully aware of the caller's need when dealing with them making it a more positive experience and aid in getting them the help they need as quickly as possible.
Where did the idea for the Pegasus scheme come from and when was it launched?
Pegasus was officially launched on 2nd April 2012 in Dyfed-Powys.
The idea originated in Nottinghamshire Police in 2008/9, from a member of the public who had suffered a stroke, and was also a victim of anti-social behaviour. When he called the police to report the anti-social behaviour he was told to phone back when he was sober. He then contacted the Chief Constable in Nottinghamshire and put forward an idea of having a PIN number which he could provide and they would have his details already.
After Nottinghamshire Police, City of London Police also adopted the scheme, and then ourselves, therefore we were the first force in Wales to adopt this kind of scheme.
How many people have signed up to Pegasus since then, and what kind of feedback do you get?
We currently have 440 members.
Some people that have signed up to the scheme have previously had a negative experience due to the officers dealing with them not having enough information about them before. They feel reassured about us having information about them that can make their experience with the Police a good one and also that we can deal with their needs should they need to contact us.
What is your personal experience of working with the Pegasus scheme out on the beat?
There is a person that I speak to regularly that I signed up to the scheme. Due to knowing their needs I have been able to see when their mental health has begun to decline and get in touch with their mental health worker to begin the ball rolling for the person to have a psychiatric assessment.
And finally, why was the scheme named after a creature from Greek mythology?
The victim of the anti-social behaviour that prompted the creation of the scheme stated that in the worst times of the anti-social behaviour he used to imagine being whisked away by the Greek mythological flying horse “Pegasus” – hence the name.
Many thanks to Aileen for telling us all about the Pegasus communication scheme used by Dyfed Powys . What do you think of the scheme? We would love to hear from you - comment below or send us an email.