Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The social construction of 101 non-emergency video relay services for deaf signers.

Skinner, Robert A.; Napier, Jemina; Fyfe, Nicholas R


Robert A. Skinner

Jemina Napier


How the police prepare for and engage with a citizen who is deaf and uses British Sign Language (BSL) is a national problem. From the perspective of deaf sign language users, the police remain largely inaccessible and unprepared in how to accommodate their linguistic needs. Four regional forces have responded to this issue by introducing a local solution, a bespoke 101 non-emergency video relay service (101VRS). Independent VRS companies function as the auxiliary service, mediating video calls to a 101 helpline. This service was identified as a simple solution that relied on minimal resourcing and input from the police. In using Pinch and Bijker’s social construction of technology (SCOT) framework, we look at competing interpretations of the 101VRS concept and how this has led to a range of intended and unintended solutions and problems (Pinch TJ and Bijker WE (1984) The social construction of facts and artefacts: or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other. Social Studies of Science 14(3): 399–441). To maintain the investment in improving access to the police, we recommend harmonization of 101VRS nationally, and ongoing consultation with how front-line services can become better prepared at assisting deaf citizens.


SKINNER, R.A., NAPIER, J. and FYFE, N.R. 2021. The social construction of 101 non-emergency video relay services for deaf signers. International journal of police science and management [online], 23(2), pages 145-156. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 26, 2020
Online Publication Date Jan 13, 2021
Publication Date Jun 1, 2021
Deposit Date May 25, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 25, 2021
Journal International Journal of Police Science and Management
Print ISSN 1461-3557
Electronic ISSN 1478-1603
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 2
Pages 145-156
Keywords Video relay services; Policing diverse communities; Non-emergency; Calls; Sign language; Interpreting studies; Social construction of technology
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations