Women’s Aid, the IOPC and the NPCC launch ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign this National Stalking Awareness Week

 

Monday 8th April 2019

 

This National Stalking Awareness Week, we’re working with the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the National Police Chiefs’ Council on the ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign to raise awareness about how to safely dial 999 when it is too dangerous for you to speak.

Two in five survivors supported by domestic abuse services in 2017/18 experience stalking and harassment from their partner or ex-partner.

A 999 call to the police can be a matter of life or death. Yet for some women it is too dangerous for them to speak to the police for fear that their abuser will carry out their threats to hurt or even kill them if they do so.

Kerry Power was one such woman who was too frightened to speak to the police but dialled 999 because she desperately needed help.

Kerry made a silent 999 call when her abusive ex-partner broke into her home. But Kerry did not know about the Silent Solution system that you need to use to alert the police that it is a genuine call. Therefore the police did not respond. Kerry was found dead the next day. Her abusive ex-partner had strangled her to death.

A silent 999 call on its own will not bring police assistance. By using the Silent Solution system, you can make a 999 call without having to speak by listening and responding to the call handler by:

  • coughing
  • or tapping the keys if you can
  • and then pressing 55 when prompted by the automated Silent Solution system

This will alert the police that it is a genuine 999 call and will help notify the police that you need urgent help.

Lisa Johnson, Manager of Direct Services at Women’s Aid, said:

“For survivors of domestic abuse calling the police might be too dangerous. Many abusers will threaten to hurt or even kill them if they try to speak out about the abuse. 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.

“For a long time we have been encouraging survivors to use the Silent Solution system to make a silent 999 call if they feel it would be dangerous for them to speak to the call operator. 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.”

 

Catrin Evans, IOPC Regional Director,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.

“We found from our investigation into police contact with Kerry that there is a lack of public awareness of the Silent Solution system and are keen to share this important information as widely as possible. It could potentially save a life.”

 

Kerry Power’s family said:

Happy, fun-loving and considerate are all words you could use to describe Kerry, however the one thing everybody would mention first would be that she was the consummate mum.

“After a split from her son’s dad and a tough few years, things were on the up, Kerry was back to her old self and was looking forward. Unfortunately this was all brought to an end by the brutal actions of her ex-partner in December 2013.

“After weeks of stalking and inappropriate behaviour, he broke into Kerry’s house with a key he had previously had cut, unable to accept her decision to end their relationship. As things escalated Kerry became worried for the safety of herself and her son, who was asleep upstairs and called 999.

“Although she was not able to speak for the fear of alerting the intruder to her actions, she followed the advice given by a police officer during an earlier visit; that she could call and not speak, as the police held her details they would be alerted and attend.

“Unbeknown to Kerry, this was fiction and nobody came…… a short while after the call, she was strangled.”

 

ACC Alan Todd, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for contact management, said:

“It is one of the fundamental roles of police to help people in an emergency.

“The police service receives 12 million 999 calls each year and a small, but important number need to use the ‘Silent Solution’. Messages guide you throughout the process and used properly, it is simple, straightforward and helps us….to help you. So, in the words of the campaign….Make yourself Heard.”

 

Join us this Stalking Awareness Week to raise awareness about how survivors can make themselves heard and safely dial 999 by sharing our graphic with the hashtag #MakeYourselfHeard. It could save lives.

 

If you are worried that your partner, or that of a friend or family member, is controlling and abusive, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.

 

For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 / [email protected]

 

 

 

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