Battered calls up

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CALLS to a domestic violence emergency hot line in St Helens have increased by around 50 per cent over the past month.

Workers at Women's Aid in the town have reported an upsurge in battered wives contacting them for help and advice.

The hotline – which is open 24-hours-a-day – normally receives 10 calls a day. During July, they have been taking around 15.

Operations Manager Jon Dawson said: "There could be a number of reasons, including increased publicity and the fact that the summer holidays are coming up and nerves can start to jangle at this time of year."

Women's Aid St Helens has also seen a marked upturn in visitors to it's Hardshaw Street drop in centre.

Mr Dawson added: "The drop in centre is open between 9am and 4.30pm. But our phones lines are open not only to victims but also perpetrators.

"The helpline is open 24-hours. It is manned by people locally and you will never get put through to an answer machine."

"We've also launched an initiative to offer mobile phones to victims who wish to stay in the relationship. The phones are chipped, so they can only get through to our hotline or 999.

"And we offer a service where we take photographic evidence of damage to property or injuries inflicted on victims.

"Then, if the victim feels unable to press charges we can legally store the pictures and use them as evidence if the person later changes their mind."

Inspector John Vaundrey told a Windle Parish Council meeting there had been an increase in violent crime and domestic violence in the area.

However, a force spokeswoman refused to release specific data.

She said: "Changes in the way we record and process violent crime means more has been recorded than in previous months.

"We're not releasing the figures because on paper they look like there has been an increase when actually there hasn't been more violent crime."

• Women's Aid hotline is 01925 220541. They have also set up a helpline for men - 01744 454290 - who have committed domestic violence.