Guide Dogs for the Blind visit

Guide Dogs 2West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones took time to understand better the issues facing blind and partially-sighted people who rely on guide dogs.  He visited Guide Dogs for the Blind in Harborne, Birmingham on Thursday (12 Dec).

Bob took part in a "blindfold walk" to experience how it feels to be out with a guide dog on the streets.  Bob also received a briefing on the key political and practical issues currently affecting the charity and guide dog users.

Speaking about the visit, Bob said, "I'd like to thank Guide Dogs for the Blind for arranging this visit, which offered real insight into their excellent work and the key issues facing Guide Dog owners.

"I was particularly interested to learn that the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, will make it a specific offence for an out of control dog to attack an assistance dog - such as a guide dog.  I will be asking the Force to look at how we will make dog owners aware of the new law, and how the Force will ensure the new law is properly enforced, learning from good practice elsewhere.

"Guide Dogs for the Blind reports that dog attacks on assistance dogs are rising.  Such attacks can cause immense distress to blind and partially sighted guide dog owners, as well as injuries to the dogs too.  Injuries to assistance dogs can mean that their users cannot go out, losing their independence, and the stress of such attacks can damage their confidence too.  Guide Dogs reports costs associated with attacks at over £170,000 over two years.Guide Dogs 4

Guide Dogs Birmingham Mobility Team Community Engagement staff Terry Smith and Sue Bushell said, "We were delighted to spend some time with Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones and give him the opportunity to hear about Guide Dogs and our campaigns, as well as experience a blindfold walk with Guide Dog Ashleigh and Guide Dog Mobility Instructor Shelly Palmer-Boyd.   It is a particularly relevant time to talk to him as the changes in legislation about dog attacks on assistance dogs will be going for Royal Assent in the first quarter of the New Year.  It is important that the Police and Judicial system are aware of the importance of this change to us as an organisation and to our dogs and clients.  We look forward to working closely with the Police to raise awareness amongst their staff, magistrates and the public in general to ensure that any attacks on a working Guide Dog are dealt with appropriately"

Guide Dogs 5