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Advice to domestic abuse victims on using 'Silent Solution' telephone system in an emergency

Article date - 03 April 2020

We know that people across Merseyside are continuing to follow the national advice around household isolation as a result of the current Coronavirus pandemic.
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Merseyside Police and their community safety partners are committed to keeping everyone safe but we know we have vulnerable people living in our communities who will be additionally concerned about the prospect of staying at home for a number of reasons - including those who have been the victims of domestic abuse.

They are encouraging everyone to become familiar with options within the 999 system -  a part of the 999 system allows for people who are not free to speak, but are able to either make a noise, to press 55, which alerts the BT operator to the fact that you need help, and they can then connect to the police.

The system enables all 999 callers, to access support in the manner described, it is important that a noise is made or that 55 is pressed. For example if you can only make  noise, such as tapping the handset, coughing, crying or even talking to the offender, then these actions will alert the attention of the BT operator.

Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs, from Protecting Vulnerable People, said: “There is no suggestion that there has been a rise in the number of calls in relation to domestic abuse on Merseyside but we aware that we are currently in unprecedented and challenging times and that people may feel particularly concerned about the circumstances they currently find themselves in.

“We want to be able to relieve some of that concern by reassuring people that domestic abuse remains a priority for the Force and our specially trained officers will continue to be there for people to offer help and support and to investigate allegations of abuse thoroughly and professionally.

“We would always advise that if someone is in immediate danger they should dial 999 and speak to an operator but we also accept that in times such as this when households are self-isolating that openly speaking is not always an option.

“The Silent Solution is a service which means a vulnerable person can call 999 and alert us, without making a sound, that they need our help and we will respond.

“If they do not want to contact the police at this time then I would urge people not to remain quiet but to get support from other agencies or speak to friends and family about what is happening.”

St Helens Council's Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Councillor Jeanie Bell, said: "We know that there are vulnerable people in our communities who will be more concerned than others about the prospect of staying at home for a number of reasons, including those who have been the victims of domestic abuse such as violence or coercive and controlling behaviour.

 "While all public services are adapting to new ways of working during this pandemic, our message to anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse is clear: You are not alone and you don’t have to suffer in silence - we will still be here for you, no matter what." 

If you have any non-urgent information on domestic abuse – if you are a victim or believe someone you know is a victim - you can contact direct message @MerPolCC on Twitter, ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’ on Facebook or contact @CrimestoppersUK, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Throughout the pandemic, St Helens Council will be running its own domestic abuse campaign #LOCKDOWNDOMESTICABUSE which provides advice and information for victims or those who witness domestic abuse being carried out. For more information, follow St Helens Council on Twitter @sthelenscouncil or facebook.com/sthelenscouncil

Further support can also be found at these national agencies:
Women’s Aid | womensaid.org.uk | 0808 200 0247 (24 hours) https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/
Refuge (includes information for men) | refuge.org.uk | 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)
National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 200 0247(24 hours)