How 888 'Walk me Home' women's safety phone number service could work

By Press Association & Simon Meechan

An emergency "Walk Me Home" phone service designed to give more protection to women could be up and running by Christmas.

BT has proposed creating the service and has contacted the Home Office about the idea.

The 888 number and app, which could be used by anybody who fears fearful while out walking alone, will allow users to have their journeys tracked and trigger an alert to close contacts and the emergency services if they do not arrive home at their expected time.

The proposal has reportedly been approved by Home Secretary Priti Patel, in the wake of the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in London.

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Here's what we know so far about how the emergency number will work, with reporting by the PA News Agency.

How will Walk Me Home emergency 888 number work?

Users will be able to download a mobile phone app then enter their home address and other regular destinations.

Before walking the user would start the app, or call or text 888, which would give the expected journey time and complete tracking via GPS.

A message would be sent to the user at the time they were predicted to arrive home and a failure to respond would issue calls to emergency contacts and then the police.

Who came up with the idea?

BT chief executive Philip Jansen writes in the Mail the murders of Ms Everard and Ms Nessa filled him “with outrage and disgust”, making him realise that throughout the UK “the simple act of walking alone is making people feel anxious and at risk”.

It led he and his colleagues at the telecommunications company to propose the “walk me home” service, which they hope to further develop with police and others in their industry.

Can only women and girls use the number?

No, Mr Jansen has indicated the not-for-profit service could be used by anyone fearful while out walking.

How much will it cost?

The project could reportedly cost as little as £50 million.

Does the Government support it?

A spokeswoman says the Home Office have received Mr Jansen’s letter and “will respond in due course”, adding: “We need a whole of society approach to tackling violence against women and girls and welcome joint working between the private sector and Government”.

The Mail reports the Home Secretary has approved the proposal submitted earlier this week by BT.

Have there been any objections?

Police Federation spokesman Phill Matthews told the Mail “anything that improves people’s safety we would not be opposed to per se” but also noted the could be issues if the system “generated a load more work for police”.

Mr Jansen has acknowledged there will likely be concerns around privacy and misuse of the app, including wasting police time as already occurs with those abusing the 999 service.

When might it start?

Mr Jansen is hoping the scheme could be up and running by Christmas.

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