Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Domestic abuse victims offered personal safety alarms

Personal safety alarm
The alarm is small enough to be carried in a handbag

Police in Tayside are to offer personal safety alarms to victims of domestic abuse as part of a six-month pilot.

The devices are already being used by many forces in England and Wales, but not in Scotland.

GPS technology built into the units will help the emergency services locate people quickly after they activate their alarm.

Currently, domestic abuse victims in Scotland have to rely on alarm systems that only work in the home.

Det Sgt Amanda Nicolson, from Tayside Police, said the alarms were small enough to be carried in a handbag or worn underneath clothing.

"Domestic abuse takes many forms and one of the forms could be stalking - we've seen that before," she said.

"It really does inhibit and hinder the way a victim goes about their daily chores. This device will give them the confidence they need to leave the home."

Audio evidence

The alarms, operated by Skyguard Ltd, will be given to those deemed to be at the highest risk of harm from domestic abuse.

When a device is activated, it transmits the victim's position to an operator at a Skyguard control centre and also alerts police. The alarm is designed to work on any mobile phone network.

A two-way audio line is also opened between the operator and the victim, but Det Sgt Nicolson said the operator would not speak unless it was obviously safe to do so.

The audio is recorded and can be used as evidence.

The pilot is a joint project with the Perth and Kinross Community Safety Partnership and the Domestic Abuse and Violence against Women Forum.

Ch Supt Craig Suttie, from Tayside Police, said the devices would "reduce the fear" experienced by victims of domestic abuse, particularly when they were not at home.

''We will be issuing mobile alarm devices to victims of domestic abuse and these will assist in getting timely help from emergency services to a victim where they find themselves in imminent danger from a known abuser.

"An extremely quick response will follow with the emergency services fully aware of who is in danger and where they are."

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