Police visit ends with injury

LITTLE did an Ipswich wheelchair-user think a trip to Ipswich police station would leave her injured as she struggled to push open its heavy door.On the day after new legislation aiming to help disabled people access businesses and services came into force Linda Tovey speaks out about her experience.

LITTLE did an Ipswich wheelchair-user think a trip to Ipswich police station would leave her injured as she struggled to push open its heavy door.

On the day after new legislation aiming to help disabled people access businesses and services came into force Linda Tovey speaks out about her experience.

Her accident happened just two days before the third phase of the Disability Discrimination Act kicked in, which says businesses will have to make "reasonable adjustments" to make their services accessible to disabled people.

Ms Tovey, a 53-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer had gone to Ipswich police station to make a report after being involved in a road accident the day before.

But she had no way of opening the station door other than by using her electric scooter to push it open – and in doing so she trapped her hand.

Ipswich police said new sliding doors should be installed in around six to eight weeks' time.

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Ms Tovey, who had not wanted to wait around for a police officer to come and see her, decided to come in person.

She said: "I got in my scooter, went up the ramp and was confronted by the heavy door in front of me. There was no way of opening it as I couldn't reach.

"There was no push button or bell that I could see. So, as I often have to do, I moved forward and let my scooter push the door.

"The door started opening and I went to push the door with my right hand. But my hand got trapped between the handle and door. My scooter, which is electric, carried on going."

Ms Tovey reversed and managed to release her hand, but still had another set of doors to get through. Luckily, she was assisted by staff.

Ms Tovey said: "I watched my hand bubble up and it was scary to watch, because I didn't know what was happening to my hand."

She added she often has bruises, because, she said, "I am always using my elbows and knees to push open doors."

Ms Tovey was amazed at how difficult it was to get into the station.

She said: "This happened just a couple of days before the Disability Discrimination Act comes into force.

"I would've liked to have seen a hip push button so the door opens for you or at least a notice saying to ring the bell if you are in a wheelchair or a scooter. This also shocked me because it was a police station."

Chief Inspector Chris Mayhew said: "This was an unfortunate accident. Station clerks helped the lady straight away and a fully-trained member of staff administered first aid.

"An accident book was completed and the lady indicated she was very grateful for the help and first aid she received.

"Plans have been in place for some time for alterations to be made to the front reception in order to benefit people visiting the police station and to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

"It is anticipated that within the next six to eight weeks, sliding doors will be fitted to replace the existing front doors."

Is the new Disability Discrimination Act working for you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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