TecSOS uses technology to help victims of domestic abuse

A Secured by Design (SBD) member company has helped more than 12,500 high-risk victims of domestic violence in the UK to get a faster response from the police to help save them from serious injury or being murdered.

As its name indicates, TecSOS uses technology to provide an SOS or emergency service to help victims at a time when they need it most.

Victims are provided with a specially adapted mobile phone. When activated, these create a ‘vulnerable person’ alert on the emergency services’ call system and local officers are dispatched immediately in response.

Police officers will know that they are dealing with a high risk domestic violence victim who has been assessed by police as vulnerable and has been given a handset because of that risk. The majority of Police Forces in the UK have committed to working with TecSOS, which is provided on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis.

In the UK, TecSOS have had over 1,700 activations already using this system. Their UK Manager, John Liversidge, explained: “That’s not just a number. Each one of these is a real person who has needed protection and has activated the phone.”

Four independent evaluations of the TecSOS service have been carried out. The latest, by a Professor at the College of Policing in New York, evaluated the use of TecSOS for high risk domestic violence victims in the Met Police area in London over an eight-month period.

The evaluators found at least seven instances where if the victim had attempted to use their own mobile phone as opposed to a TecSOS phone, they would have been seriously injured or murdered. The Met Police also demonstrated an 11% improvement in response times to a TecSOS activation. The research also found there was a significant fall in the fear of crime amongst victims who possessed a TecSOS phone.

“We have a growing collection of evidence where TecSOS activations have resulted in the police arriving on scene quickly and being able to intervene,” said Mr Liversidge. “Many TecSOS users have stated it was for them, the first step to getting their life back. They have told us it gives them the confidence to go about their daily business and provides protection if they are in danger. They no longer have to remain at home. They can travel to work and visit friends. They can start to rebuild their lives,” he said.

TecSOS has full voice capability but also uses tracking technology to locate users who cannot speak to the operator. It is in operation across a number of other countries, including Germany, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Jersey and Eire. The number of TecSOS users across the world now exceeds 50,000.

TecSOS is supported by the Vodafone Foundation and is managed by Thames Valley Partnership.

Mr Liversidge was speaking to police staff at the National Training Event run by SBD, the national police crime prevention initiative, in Northampton on 14-15 March. TecSOS was one of 40 SBD member companies exhibiting at the event.

SBD Chief Executive Officer, Guy Ferguson, said: “TecSOS are doing live-saving work in the field of domestic violence. All Police Forces are heavily committed to combatting domestic violence and the vast majority of them doing so with the support of TecSOS.”

From left: South Yorkshire Chief Constable Stephen Watson, who is the National Police Chiefs' Council crime prevention lead; Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton; SBD Chief Executive Officer Guy Ferguson; and John Liversidge, of TecSOS, at the TecSOS exhibition stand at the SBD National Training Event in Northants where both Chief Constables were guest speakers

From left: South Yorkshire Chief Constable Stephen Watson, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council crime prevention lead; Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton; SBD Chief Executive Officer Guy Ferguson; and John Liversidge, of TecSOS, at the TecSOS exhibition stand at the SBD National Training Event in Northants where both Chief Constables were guest speakers