Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bullied blind woman Siobhan Meade films Stevenage abuse

Siobhan Meade
Siobhan Meade said she "did not understand the mentality of people who think it's acceptable to intimidate a blind person in the street"

A blind woman who was regularly sworn at by bullies and nearly mugged took to wearing a body camera so police could identify the culprits.

Siobhan Meade, 30, said the weekly abuse she suffered relating to her disability "nearly destroyed" her life.

She handed camera footage to police, who spoke to the perpetrators, and the abuse she had suffered in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, stopped.

A police spokesman said this kind of hate crime was "under-reported".

Ms Meade, who has been blind since the age of 16, said that after she moved from Norfolk last November "numerous incidents of disability hate crime" had made her life "uncomfortable".

'Last resort'

"[It has] ranged from being sworn at in the street, young people circling me and deliberately walking me into lampposts and nearly being mugged," she said.

"They actually said 'let's mug her and see how much she can see'... I was horrified.

"It was extremely distressing and it nearly destroyed me as a person... It was intimidating beyond belief."

Siobhan Meade gets around with the help of her guide dog Mac

She said filming the culprits was a "last resort" but as she could not identify the individuals it was "the only way I was going to be able to gather evidence".

On her own initiative, she asked some UK companies for a body-worn camera she could test.

"The police had been so supportive and given me lots of reassurance, so when I took the footage to them they were able to deal with it," she said.

Hertfordshire Police said hate crime was "under-reported for many reasons" and the force encouraged victims to come forward.

"We are committed to ensuring people with disabilities have increased support and opportunity to report incidents in a safe and secure environment, either to the police or via a third party," a spokesman said.

Ms Meade said the abuse had now stopped and she no longer felt the need to wear the camera.

"You get the odd silly comment but nothing to the extent it was," she said.

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