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Help is available for Domestic Abuse victims

Published: 20 April 2020

During the current pandemic, we have the facilities to arrange for our family team to communicate with you remotely by video or by telephone so that you can be assured that you get the protection that you and any children need. We are here to help, call Alexander & Co Solicitors LLP on 01332 600 005 or email enquiries@AandCo.co.uk for further information.

We have detailed some information below to support you:-

 
Support from family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues.

Maintain contact through technology on a regular basis and certainly daily.
Use a code word or phrase to let someone know it is not safe to talk or to ask someone to telephone the Police on your behalf. Consider asking a trusted person to contact you at varying times throughout the day or week in order to check on you and to ensure you and/or your children remain safe.

 
The Police

Keep your mobile phone to hand and call the Police if you are in immediate danger by dialling 999.

When you call 999
BT operators answer all 999 calls from a call centre. They will ask which service is required if you are not able to speak and anything suspicious is heard the operator will connect you to a Police call handler.

If you call 999 from a mobile phone

If you cannot speak, you may be asked to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to questions.

If making a sound could put you or someone else in danger and operator cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, your call will be transferred to the "Silent Solution system."

The Silent Solution system
The Police use this to filter out large numbers of accidental or hoax 999 calls. It also exists to help people who are unable to speak but who genuinely need Police assistance.

You will hear an automated Police message, which lasts for 20 seconds and begins with "you are through to the Police".  It will ask you to press 55 to be put through to Police call management. The BT operator will remain on the line and listen.  If you press 55, the operator will be notified and will transfer the call to the Police.   If 55 is not pressed, the call will be terminated. Pressing 55 does not allow Police to track the location of the call.

What happens when you press 55
When transferred to the local Police force the Police call handler will attempt to communicate with you by asking simple Yes or No questions.  If you are not able to speak, you should listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so that they can assess the call and arrange help if needed.

If you call 999 from landline
Because it is less likely that 999 calls are made by accident from landlines, the "Silent Solution system" is not used.

If you call from a landline and if you don't say that there is an emergency or answer questions or only background noise can be heard and the operator cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, you will be connected to a Police call handler as doubt exists.  If you replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick up again. 

If you picks up again during the 45 seconds and the operator is concerned for your safety, the call will be connected to the Police.

Whilst 999 calls made from landlines can be traced and enable call handlers to help provide a response, this will only happen if it is suspected that you are in need of an emergency service.

If the caller is unable to speak and because the "Silent Solution system" is not available to land lines, it is probably better to call the police from a mobile.

 
Women's Aid

Women's Aid is a national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. Its website contains valuable information and can be accessed on line https://www.womensaid.org.uk.

During lockdown, Women's Aid is encouraging victims and survivors to access online forums and help lines during this time. Women's Aid especially recommends this for those who are currently isolated.  It is recommending in particular the following help and support:-

Silent Solutions (as outlined above)

Support Line at https://www.supportline.org.uk
Support Line offers confidential emotional support to children, young adults and adults by telephone, email and post.  It works with callers to "develop healthy, positive coping strategies, and inner feelings of strength and increased self-esteem to encourage healing, recovery and moving forward with life".

The Survivors' Forum through Women's Aid, which is an online resource for survivors of domestic abuse.  The Survivors' Forum can be accessed 24/7. This is a place where survivors can support each other and share their experiences.

Woman's Live Aid Chat is currently available Monday to Friday 10.00 – 12.00 p.m.

Women's Aid Email Service is still operating and can also provide support.

Information about national and local support services can be found at https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support
 

Helplines

Helplines can be found at www.gov.uk/reports-domestic-abuse
And these include the following:-

 
Useful apps to download

Bright Sky
This is a free to download mobile app providing support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or for those concerned about someone they know. It is available on android devices from the Google Play Store and on iOS phones from the Apple App Store.

Hollie Guard App
This is free to download on any Android phone or iPhone. The app turns the phone into a personal safety device that can be triggered if the user is ever in any danger.  All that is needed to do is shake the phone or tap the screen and it generates an alert, which automatically sends the user's location and audio/video evidence to the user's emergency contacts.

 
How can I stop my abuser from finding out about me trying to get help?

This is described by Women's' Aid as "cover your tracks online".

As a rule, internet browsers will save certain information as one surfs the net. This means that anyone going onto a computer, laptop, phone and/or iPad is able to search the internet history for sites visited.

Private Browsing
 

All leading web browsers have a "private browsing mode" that, once enabled, stores nothing about the user's activity within that browsing window.  This means that there will be no trace of activity on the computer. Further information as to what one needs to do can be found on Women's Aid website https://www.womensaid.org.uk

Delete mobile phone calls, text messages and emails
 

Prevent a user from knowing that you are trying to access help and/or information by deleting phone calls made on their mobile phone, emails and text and WhatsApp messages, the deleted emails/messages usually move to a delete folder and so they need to be delete from that folder as well.  Emails, text messages and WhatsApp messages can be useful as evidence in the future, either in court proceedings or dealings with the police, and so it is sensible to ask the recipient of any message sent to them to both save and print any communication.

 
Legal Advice

It is possible to apply to the courts for an injunction under Part IV The Family Law Act 1996 for :

  • non-molestation order is to prevent a partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against the applicant or their child, or intimidating, harassing, or pestering them, in order to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the applicant and their children and/or;
  • An occupation order regulates who can live in the family home and can also restrict an abuser from entering the surrounding area.  If a person does not feel safe in continuing to live with their partner, or if they have left home because of violence and want to return and exclude their abuser, they might want to apply for an occupation order.

The family courts and family practitioners have recently received new guidance which recommends where possible court hearings are done remotely such by phone or video link. We have the facilities to arrange this you can be assured that you will get the protection that you and any children need.

How to get Legal Advice?

You can apply for an injunction yourself, however you should consider obtaining legal advice from a family solicitor where possible.

If you are unable to contact a solicitor, ask a trusted family member, friend, neighbour or work colleague to contact a solicitor for an initial assessment to advise you as to your options and how best they can be provided to you.

Remember, if you or someone else is in immediate danger, please call 999 and ask for the police!

We are here to help, call Alexander & Co Solicitors LLP on 01332 600 005 or email enquiries@AandCo.co.uk