New 888 phone service to protect women walking home ‘backed by home secretary’

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A phone service to help protect women as they walk home is reportedly being backed by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The proposed service would allow people to use an app or dial/text 888 to trigger GPS tracking.

It would give an expected journey time, with automatic alerts sent to emergency contacts such as friends and family if the person fails to reach home by the given time.

Sabina Nessa's body was identified on Monday. Pic: Met Police
33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard was murdered by former police officer Wayne Couzens
The idea for the service comes after the killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa (top)

The idea is being pioneered by BT chief executive Philip Jansen after he said he was filled with “outrage and disgust” at the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

He hopes it could be up and running by Christmas and indicated it would be available to anyone who felt vulnerable – not just women and girls.

It could also be used for taxi or public transport journeys, while another feature would allow users to send a one touch alert to police.

Mr Jansen said its provisional name is 888 or “walk me home”.

Ms Patel is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying: “This new phone line is exactly the kind of innovative scheme which would be good to get going as soon as we can. I’m now looking at it with my team and liaising with BT.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Priti Patel is said to support the proposed new service

A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed they had received a letter from Mr Jansen and would “respond in due course”.

“As set out in our strategy earlier this year, we need a whole of society approach to tackling Violence against Women and Girls and welcome joint working between the private sector and Government,” she added.

However, Samantha Billingham – who set up her own support group to help domestic abuse survivors – said it would not fix the underlying issues.

She 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 needs a bandage wrapped around to work and keep in place.

“Tackle the issue in hand!”

It comes as London police chief Cressida Dick announced on Friday the person who will lead an independent review into the Metropolitan Police’s culture and standards.

Baroness Louise Casey of Blackstock will look into the current leadership of the force and its recruitment, vetting and training of officers.

It’s being launched after it emerged Sarah Everard’s killer was allowed to continue working as a police officer despite being suspected of indecent exposure in 2015 and again just a few days before he abducted her.

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