Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Visit to the Police and Crime Commissioner Office in Swinton

Yesterday afternoon, I attended a meeting with the engagement team at the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, located in Swinton, with my RNIB regional campaigns officer - to discuss hate-crime against visually impaired and blind people in the North West.

Using my own experiences of being a victim of hate-crime, I gave a presentation illustrating my incident and the huge impact it had on my life; diminishing my confidence and independence. I'd conducted a survey at Henshaws Society for Blind People at the Manchester centre in December, to gather evidence on this issue and received lots of feedback from the service users, including their individual cases of being a victim of crime and how they found the reporting process.

After going into detail about some of the individual cases - such as someone having their cane stolen, another being badly beaten because his cane was a visible clue that he was more vulnerable, a guide dog user having to deal with someone repeatedly throwing nails in his driveway which could damage his dog's paws, and another respondent reporting that he had his home broken into as the young residents of his area knew he was elderly and blind - I proposed how the team could help with the issue.

My propositions included awareness training within the police force, which could include simulation, to gain experience and insight into what it's like to be a visually impaired person out and about in the community. Training could include how to support a VI / blind victim. Talks and demonstrations about how to keep safe would also be beneficial, especially at community centres, to highlight the vulnerability of those who are sight- impaired in the local area, and a meeting and demonstration at Henshaws would also be most welcome, giving support and advice to the service users. They could look into the crime-reporting process and whether it's accessible enough, including large print and / or braille formats for information and forms.

The engagement team were really lovely and listened to everything I had to say. They were very supportive and enthusiastic to get involved - and I think I've definitely given them something to think about! Hopefully I will hear from them very soon and perhaps be able to get involved with any events or meetings in the near future.

A big thank you to Uzma, Gaynor, Jenna, Hannah and Rick for giving me their time yesterday, for arranging the meeting and for agreeing to see me!

I received some nice tweets from the PCC twitter account, which you can read below: