BT has set out plans for a phone service designed to protect women walking home alone, in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard and other women in the UK.
The service, provisionally being called ‘Walk Me Home’ or ‘888’ would work using a GPS tracking system and alert emergency contacts and potentially the police if a user did not reach their destination on time.
The service, which is being designed by BT but could work on any network, would be usable through an app, or by texting or calling 888.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, BT chief executive Philip Jansen said, talking about the 888 service, “We are proposing to build into it a new emergency service that would complement 999”, adding that the service would “also act as a deterrent to criminals”.
Mr Jansen has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel regarding the plans, which he said would require testing and funding.
According to reports, the plans have been positively received by Ms Patel and the Home Office is now looking into the plans further.
There are though multiple concerns about the plans – one being that the app does not tackle cultural problems that have resulted in male violence. It has been claimed that the service could deter criminals, though there are concerns that this may only happen to a limited effect.
The app has been welcomed by some, who feel it may help women feel safer, though a number of groups and politicians have called for actions to be taken to tackle the problems around male violence instead.
Writing on social media, Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party said,
“Here’s a radical idea for you Priti – instead of tracking women’s movements as we go about our lives, how about the government actually tackles male violence instead?
“Only 1% of reported rapes result in a charge. That’s the problem, not us walking home.”
Meanwhile, the Women’s Equality Party said, “We have to stop managing violence against women and girls and start ending it.”
Despite the app being reported as having won Priti Patel’s support, it may face a number of barriers – including gaining public support and tackling any security/privacy concerns.