Plan for 888 phone tracking number ‘putting a plaster’ on male violence problem, campaigners say

Home secretary urged to ‘tackle the issue in hand’

Liam James
Saturday 09 October 2021 16:52
Priti Patel announces inquiry into Sarah Everard murder
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The home secretary has backed plans for a new emergency phone number for women but critics have said it amounts to “putting a plaster” on the issue of male violence.

The 888 service would allow women feeling unsafe to have their journeys tracked and an alert triggered if they do not reach their destination in time.

Priti Patel called it “exactly the kind of innovative scheme which would be good to get going as soon as we can” and said she was liaising with BT, who proposed the service.

Campaigners and MPs have asked whether the government should take stronger measures against male violence rather than asking women to be tracked.

Angela Rayner, deputy Labour leader, said on Twitter: “Here's a radical idea for you Priti - instead of tracking women's movements as we go about our lives, how about the government actually tackles male violence instead?

“Only 1% of reported rapes result in a charge. That's the problem, not us walking home.”

Samantha Billingham, from the Survivors of Domestic Abuse support group, tweeted: “Women could use the app to summon Police if they felt threatened. After the murder of Sarah Everard?

“Stop putting a plaster over things @pritipatel that need a bandage wrapped around to work and keep in place. Tackle the issue in hand!”

Nazir Afzal, former chief crown prosecutor for northwest England, tweeted: “Any strategy that requires the potential women victims to be tagged rather than the violent male perpetrator will fail.

“The cause of violence against women is a violent man, not a lone woman.”

Phill Matthews, Police Federation spokesman, said “anything that improves people's safety we would not be opposed to per se” but also noted there could be issues if the system “generated a load more work for police”.

BT, which runs the 999 emergency number, proposed the new phone service in response to the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, both killed walking alone at night.

Philip Jansen, the chief executive, said: “Male violence is causing so many people, especially women, to live in fear.”

Writing in the Daily Mail, he said: “I am not a politician, I can't change society, but if I can use innovative technology to improve personal safety, then I am determined to do so.”

Additional reporting by PA

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