Making Women Safer – Or Not? An Evaluation of Hammersmith and Fulham Domestic Violence Alarm Scheme – An Internal Report

September 21, 1994

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The Alarm Scheme that is evaluated in this study is one element within a broader effort by a local police force in Hammersmith and Fulham to respond in a more sensitive and focused manner to the needs of victims of crime. The Scheme began in September 1994 and involved the administering of telephone alarms on a short-term basis to women who had reported incidents of abuse and were pursuing variable combinations of criminal cases, civil protection orders and separation. These alarms were envisaged as a resource which could enhance safety and security for women attempting to escape violent men. The evaluation sought to establish whether the provision of these alarms increased women’s protection from repeat assaults by partners or ex-partners.

Main Findings:

  1. From the point of view of police beat officers and women users the Scheme was a success, but the perspectives of the Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) officers who administered it were more equivocal.
  2. There was some evidence that usage of the phones prevented repeat assaults on women on a number of occasions, and more limited indications that they were both used and acted as a deterrent.
  3. Alarms created a sense of safety and security for women and in some cases acted as a form of ’empowerment’ by enhancing women’s resources in their attempts to ‘get free’ from violence and abuse.
  4. Several DVU officers attributed the problems encountered with this Scheme to the misuse and/or misallocation of the alarm telephones – practices which the evaluation suggests can actually be attributed to the ad hoc and reactive systems which evolved within the police operational management of the Scheme.
  5. Neither an extension nor a restriction of the Alarm Scheme is recommended by the evaluation – instead it is suggested that a period of re-assessment is required during which a set of common practices is developed amongst all those officially involved in the administration of the Scheme.

Grant Holder: CWASU

Sponsor: Hammersmith and Fulham Safer Cities, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Metropolitan Police Project

  • Project Team:
    Linda Regan, Liz Kelly, Sheila Burton