Stevenage blind woman wears body camera to stop repeated abuse

Siobhan Meade, pictured with her guide dog Mac, has been gathering evidence of abuse by wearing a bo

Siobhan Meade, pictured with her guide dog Mac, has been gathering evidence of abuse by wearing a body camera - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

A blind woman who has suffered regular abuse since moving to Stevenage says she has stopped being targeted after wearing a body camera to gather evidence.

Siobhan Meade first spoke to the Comet in February about how she had been subjected to abuse and intimidation every other week while walking with her guide dog Mac – with the majority of incidents occurring in Stevenage town centre.

Since then the 30-year-old has been wearing a camera when out and about but having passed on video footage to Hertfordshire police, stopped wearing one last month after the abuse came to an end.

Miss Meade, who was born partially sighted but lost her remaining vision aged 16, said: “The body cameras have been a lifeline and without them I wouldn’t have been able to identify the perpetrators and give the evidence that is collected to the police who have been able to stop the abuse happening.

“The cameras can make people a bit more irritated but it can also deter others from future abuse if they know they are being filmed.”

Bedfordshire Police announced last week that 60 body cameras would be worn by front-line officers when dealing with the public, with the footage potentially being used as evidence in court. Hertfordshire Constabulary has been using the technology since 2009 and has 300 body cameras at officers’ disposal.

Miss Meade, who moved to Stevenage in November from Norfolk, thinks this is a step in the right direction.

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“I think there is a need for it and it’s good that the police are starting to wear them too,” she said.

“It could possibly reduce crime and I think it’s a way forward but for people like myself there is a great sense of safety when you wear one.

“I cannot thank the police enough for their hard work and support to put a stop to the abuse and reassuring me that this would be dealt with.”

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “We take every report of hate crime and disability hate crime extremely seriously and we would encourage people who believe they may be victims to come forward and report it to us.”

As part of her own respect campaign, Miss Meade visited the Da Vinci Studio School in Stevenage last week where she spoke about hate crime and carried out a series of role-playing activities where students were blindfolded and put in intimidating situations.

“The students were pleased that I’ve been able to speak to young people about my experience but also alarmed that people would target somebody who cannot fend for themselves,” she said.

“I’m going to email all the schools in Stevenage again and hopefully some more schools will get on board so I can continue to raise awareness about my respect campaign.”