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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 December 2006, 14:01 GMT
Abused women offered 'safe rooms'
Silhouette of woman
The scheme has already been trialled in a number of areas
A new scheme aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence has been unveiled by ministers.

The "sanctuary scheme" will provide money to create a room in which women can be secure within their own homes and be able to call the police.

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly announced 74m to fund the provision of rooms equipped with alarms and CCTV.

Sandra Horley from charity Refuge said the project must deal with the wider issue of domestic violence.

The aim of the scheme is to give victims the confidence to remain in their own homes rather than flee to temporary housing.

The funding will be used by local authorities to provide safe rooms equipped with mortise locks, reinforced doors and security lights.

Before you get a safe room, you should be getting a divorce
Tim H, UK

Addresses with safe rooms will be flagged up on police computers to ensure a swift response in the event of a violent incident.

Under the initiative, the rooms would only be set up at the request of the victim, and only if the violent partner no longer lived at the property.

The scheme has already been operated on a trial basis in a number of local authorities.

Safe haven

Minister for Women and Equality Meg Munn said the rooms were a choice for women who needed security and reassurance.

"It's important that it's part of a range of support, it's not just about providing a room and not doing anything else," she said.

"Of course, taking somebody to court is enormously important but women get very frightened, they perhaps have been threatened, it may well be that there's insufficient evidence for somebody to be taken to court.

"This will work for some women but not for all women. It's been tested in some areas and 90% of women are satisfied with that and it's enabled them to feel safer and lead a more normal life."

Mrs Horley, who is the chief executive of Refuge, said more needed to be done to tackle the perpetrators of domestic violence.

It's important that it's part of a range of support, it's not just about providing a room and not doing anything else
Meg Munn
Minister for women and equality

"It is very important that it is part of a wider co-ordinated response and just one of the many range of options available to women," she said.

It was not always appropriate for a woman who has been the victim of domestic abuse to remain at home, she added.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Lorely Burt welcomed the announcement and said it would mean safety for many more women.

But she added: "However, for the women who are unable to make their abusers leave, more funding must be put into refuges so that they have somewhere safe to escape to."

Refuge spokeswoman has doubts about the scheme

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