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An eye for an eye?

Criminals who prey on the blind could have to experience what it is like to lose their sight following a blindfolded experience by Boston's community policing inspector.

Insp Andy Morrice experienced what it is like to negotiate the busy town centre without the benefit of sight.

After his blindfold experience, organised by Roger and Molly Fixter, both sight impaired and members of Boston Disability Forum, Insp Morrice said: "From a policing angle this opportunity has given me a real insight into how terrible being a victim of criminal activity must be for anyone in this situation.

"I am looking at ways I can actually roll this out as part of a restorative justice process, to make people responsible for crime against our most vulnerable understand the true impact of their behaviour, by getting them to take part in something similar as part of the restoration."

Members of Boston Town Area Committee (BTAC) and Insp Morrice walked blindfolded along Dolphin Lane and across Boston's busy Market Place.

Blind walk group Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Nope, can't see a thing... blindfolded, from left, Cllr Sue Ransome, Insp Andy Morrice, Cllr Martin Griggs. Far right, Roger Fixter, third from right, Molly Fixter

The walk was to demonstrate  the difficulties people with sight loss face on a daily basis. The event also aimed to show how important it is that blind and partially-sighted people receive the care and support they need to get out and about.

Each person was given a blindfold and a white cane and was led by helpers from Mitre Lane onto Dolphin Lane and then onto the Market Place where they walked across the busy pedestrianised and trafficked area. They were not warned of any obstacles in their path, such as people, shop signage, tables and chairs or uneven surfaces.

Cllr Sue Ransome said: "I was pleased to do this walk today. I do have friends who are blind and are partially sighted, I was aware that there are problems in Boston town centre.  I will be chasing the county council to help to alleviate some of the hazards on the footways.

"I found the walk in Dolphin Lane very difficult. The amount of obstacles is unbelievable. I had the advantage of knowing that there is drainage gully in the middle, so stuck very close to that.  Smells were a very good clue to aid orientation; the cleaning fluid at Regency Cleaners was a clue, the noise and cooking smells from Crumbs cafe/restaurant was another clue.

"I was pleased to be in the Market Place. It was less oppressive and I felt safer; strange, I know, but I could hear the vehicles and felt very safe. I know I went at a peculiar angle across the Market Place and had to negotiate the kerb outside the Butterfly Hospice which was difficult. When I stepped up onto the pavement I was really wobbly and was frightened I would fall over."

Insp Morrice said: "I think from my perspective what it highlighted to me was just how vulnerable certain sections of our society are. I actually felt OK down Dolphin Lane; I felt a perception of being enclosed and safe, although I had no idea of what was going on around me. This feeling of having no idea of what was going on really manifested itself when crossing the road in the Market Place, I could hear vehicles but had no perception of how close they were, whether they were coming towards me or not, and I really felt I was putting my life in someone else's hands when stepping out to cross the road."

Insp Morrice walk Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Insp Morrice gingerly makes his way along Mitre Lane, searching in vain for his five a day