A RETIRING police officer who set up sign language surgeries has been honoured by Waltham Forest Deaf Club.

PC Barry Anderson, who retired from the Metropolitan Police Service this week after 17 years service, was awarded the first honorary lifetime membership of the club at a ceremony on Wednesday.

The police surgeries have been running on the first Wednesday of every month for the past three years to help members of the community with hearing difficulties.

PC Anderson took the initiative to get a number of Waltham Forest Police officers and staff qualified up to level one in British Sign Language and set up the project with help and funding from the diversity unit.

He said: "The deaf community in Waltham Forest had been previously overlooked.

"My aim was to create a partnership between this community and Waltham Forest Police, primarily in an advisory capacity but we soon found that we were not meeting all of their needs.

"The ability to report crime and seek advice was lacking.

"This partnership has improved confidence in the local police service.

"Many crimes and problems have been resolved to the total satisfaction of the members.

"At the end of my police career, I am proud to have established this partnership and I hope this legacy will continue".

PC Anderson said he intends to keep attending the club after his retirement.

The Deaf Club was established by its secretary Jackie Benson in 2003 and there are now more than 350 members.

Waltham Forest Police's Borough Commander Steve Wisbey, who also attended the ceremony, said: "This project shows how much can be achieved when the police and community work together.

"Waltham Forest Police will continue to support Waltham Forest Deaf Club and all other community groups in a way that best meets their needs."

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