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Mayor supports domestic abuse survivors with new service

SUPPORT: Sadiq Khan (Photo credit: PA)

SADIQ KHAN has announced plans to make much-needed specialist support for victims of domestic abuse available on their daily journeys to work, college or school.

A new collaboration between Transport for London and the leading domestic abuse refuge provider Hestia is the first of its kind. It will explore how people can seek support as part of their regular journeys, as that is less likely to cause suspicion from an abuser.

More than 75,000 domestic abuse offences were recorded in London last year and roughly a tenth of all crime recorded by the Met is domestic abuse-related. As well as physical harm, controlling behaviour is a common and devastating hallmark of abusive relationships, with abusers seeking to take charge of their partner’s everyday lives. This kind of controlling behaviour can make it difficult, and sometimes dangerous, for a victim to seek help.

This new pilot project seeks to provide safe, private spaces that could be a first step for victims of domestic abuse to access the services and support they need, provided by Hestia’s specialist staff. Victims will contact Hestia to set a pre-agreed time and TfL location to meet with Hestia’s staff. The start date for victims to access this new support will be announced in the near future.

Announcing the new pilot on International Women’s Day (Mar 8), the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my number one priority but sadly domestic abuse still accounts for around a tenth of all recorded crime in our city. I want to do everything I can to address this issue and ensure all women and girls in London feel safe.

“Transport is something Londoners use every day, and this new and innovative pilot will explore how regular journeys, which will not cause suspicion, can become an important way for the most vulnerable or at-risk individuals to access the support and services they need.”

The Mayor and TfL are committed to doing everything possible to end violence against women and girls, and this new initiative is in addition to the many measures already underway, including the Mayor’s £8.5m London Domestic Violence service and the ground-breaking Project Guardian partnership, between TfL and the police, with the aim of eliminating unwanted sexual behaviour from London’s transport network.

With 90 per cent of unwanted sexual offences going unreported, a key focus of Project Guardian has been to increase reporting so incidents can be thoroughly investigated and offenders brought to justice.

Patrick Ryan, CEO at Hestia, said: “For people trying to escape domestic abuse, fear of their abuser finding out is a key barrier to seeking support. This partnership with TfL is an exciting innovation that will make it possible for us to provide specialist support as people travel about their daily lives.”

London Victims' Commissioner, Claire Waxman, commented: “The victims of domestic abuse often suffer in silence and struggle to safely access the help and support they need. This pilot is an important step in addressing this barrier to access specialist services. We must continue to do all we can to address domestic abuse in London properly and keep women safe.”

Staynton Brown, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at TfL, added: “It is vital that people who experience domestic abuse get access to the support and advice that they need, which is why we are working with Hestia for the first time to see how we can help.”

This initiative is part of the Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, which aims to bring Londoners together to celebrate how women of all backgrounds make London the great city it is, and to take new steps to tackle gender inequality in the capital.

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