New 888 service to protect women ‘wins Priti Patel’s support’

Home secretary reportedly praises app, proposed by BT, which would check if users had got home

A proposal by BT for a new service to help protect women travelling alone has reportedly secured the support of the home secretary, Priti Patel.

Users would download a mobile phone app and enter their home address and other frequent destinations, said the Daily Mail.

Before a journey, a person would call or text 888 or use the app to enter an estimated journey time, which would then be tracked by the phone’s GPS system with the app sending a message to check whether the user had got home.

A failure to respond would trigger calls to emergency contacts and subsequently to the police.

The paper said the BT chief executive, Philip Jansen, had written to Patel saying the helpline would cost around £50m and could be launched by Christmas.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have received the letter and will 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.”

Patel told the Mail: “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.”

Jansen told the paper that he came up with the idea after the coverage of the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in south London by Wayne Couzens.

Couzens, a former Metropolitan police officer, was given a whole-life sentence last week.


Nadeem Badshah

The GuardianTramp