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Greater Manchester Police training features a blind person’s experience of disability hate crime

The new police training, delivered via Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, features the experiences of a blind person who has been supported by RNIB.

Image: A person holds a virtual reality headset up to the camera.

The person affected by disability hate crime – who wishes to remain anonymous – had been harassed by a group of men when walking with a long cane to a local bus stop. Unfortunately, the local police force didn’t take the incident seriously and the individual feels vulnerable and worried about going out to this day.

Terri Balon, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the North West of England, who was campaigning locally on the issue of disability hate crime, learned about Greater Manchester Police’s new training when it was in development. So, when the person affected by disability hate crime contacted Terri, she was able to tell them about the opportunity to influence how the police respond to hate crime in future.

The person wanted to make sure their negative experience led to a positive outcome for others; the new police training – delivered by VR headsets – could give police officers greater insight into the experience of disability hate crime, and improved empathy with those reporting incidents.

During the training, a police officer watches the person’s recreated experience of a disability hate crime, from the viewpoint of the person affected. They continue to watch from this perspective as the person reports the incident to the police, with both positive and negative responses demonstrated.

The individual who shared their experience for use in the training said:

"After I watched it I did feel an immense feeling of satisfaction that I took part and the end result being way beyond my own expectations."

Producer Judy Traharne from Mother Mountain Productions, which developed the training, added:

“Our feedback tells us that this module has made officers think very hard about the way they interact with victims/survivors of hate crime who are blind or partially sighted. The RNIB was incredibly helpful in our research, in particular, Terri.”