Silent System help for domestic abuse victims too scared to talk

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Kerry Power was killed by her partner and stalker in December 2013

A SYSTEM is being highlighted to help people in imminent danger but who cannot speak when calling 999.

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The Silent System means anyone who has to stay quiet when calling for help – such as if they are at risk of domestic abuse – can press 55 on their handset to let police know it is genuine.

It is being promoted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) as it coincides with National Stalking Awareness Week, which started today (Monday).

Annually the system filters out thousands of accidental or hoax silent 999 calls daily.

Around 50 emergency mobile calls a day are transferred by a BT operator to police as a result of someone having pressed 55 when prompted, enabling the police to carry out urgent enquiries to respond.

It also coincides with the Make Yourself Heard campaign, supported by Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the family of murder victim Kerry Power.

Kerry made a silent 999 call in December 2013 when her ex-partner and stalker got into her Plymouth home but did not respond to the BT operator’s instructions and her call was transferred to the Silent Solution system.

As 55 was not pressed, the call was terminated.

Her ex-partner later confessed to police he had fatally strangled her.

IOPC regional director Catrin Evans said: “It is always best to actually speak to a police call handler if you can, even if by whispering, but if you are putting yourself or someone else in danger by making a sound, there is something you can do.

“Make yourself heard by coughing, tapping the handset or once prompted by the automated system, by pressing 55.”

Lisa Johnson, of Women’s Aid, said: “For survivors of domestic abuse calling the police might be too dangerous.

“This means that for far too long many women have not been able to access the emergency support they so desperately need from the police.

“That’s why we are pleased to work with the IOPC to help raise awareness of the system so that survivors can call 999 without putting themselves at further risk and prevent further lives, like that of Kerry Power, from being taken.”

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