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Sensory Tunnel helps Cleveland Police to understand visual impairment

Sensory Tunnel

PCC Barry Coppinger on leaving the Sensory Tunnel at Police Headquarters

A specially designed tunnel created by the charity Guide Dogs and provides an insight into the everyday challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people, arrived at Cleveland Police Headquarters this week.

This experience, organised by Cleveland Police's Disability Support Network, provides officers and staff, including those from the Force Control Room, Front Desks and Cleveland neighbourhoods, an opportunity to gain a further understanding of how people with sight loss use all their senses in everyday life. More importantly, it assists the police in dealing with victims and witnesses where visual impairment is a factor.

Participants, including the Commissioner and Chief Constable, walk through a pitch black tunnel and experience a taste of life without sight. Senses detect the smell of freshly mown grass and the sounds of traffic and countryside noises. Underfoot is grass and a tactile pavement with surrounding walls of brick, grass, wooden fencing and wire fencing.

Through the use of the tunnel, Guide Dogs is working to break down barriers so that visually impaired people can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else. This is the first time the tunnel has been used by a northern Force and forms part of the lead up to national Guide Dog week on 5th October.

Police & Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, said: “The tunnel will raise an important debate amongst staff and partners and it’s been fantastic to be given the opportunity to use it. I’m extremely supportive of anything that improves the service for victims and witnesses and will continue to drive discussion across Cleveland.”

Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “This has been a great opportunity for our staff to put themselves in the shoes of people with a visual impairment. Only when you do this can you start to fully appreciate the obstacles that people face on a daily basis and how it may impact them as a victim or witness in an investigation.We will continue to work alongside charities and community groups to provide the best possible service in our current changing times and explore new and exciting ways to move forward."

Andrew Leon from Guide Dogs said: “Getting out and about as a blind or partially sighted person is a real challenge as there are an increasing number of hazards, such as parked vehicles on pavements, 'A' Boards and wheelie bins.  This can mean having to step into a busy road to navigate around these obstacles. Experiencing a world without sight, though only for a short time, better equips staff to understand the challenges faced by people with little or no sight.”

Other events where the Police & Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable have been recently involved with the Disability Support Network and Guide Dogs include Attacks on Guide Dogs and Car Parking on Local Pavements.



Posted on Wednesday 4th September 2013
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