‘BT’s 888 app won’t help me get home safely, it’ll just mean my body is found more quickly’ – Rachael Davis


We can all agree that something needs to be done about women’s safety in London, but a handy GPS app is not even close to being a substitute for the real, systemic change needed to combat male violence.

While the Metropolitan Police are boldly claiming that “the streets are safe for women” and suggesting we flag down a bus if we feel threatened, there’s been no sort of real, tangible change suggested or even discussed in the wake of the senseless killings of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

When I heard the news about a new women’s safety app, suggested by BT and reportedly supported by the Home Secretary, I thought something might actually be happening.,

READ MORE: New emergency phone ‘walk me home service’ could be here by Christmas amid Sarah Everard fury

But then I realised it’s just another tool to put the responsibility, and therefore the blame, for male violence on victims – and it won’t even keep us safe at all.



'I hate to be a cynic, but I am also utterly fed up of being told that it's up to me to ensure that I don't get raped and/or murdered while going about my daily life'
‘I hate to be a cynic, but I am also utterly fed up of being told that it’s up to me to ensure that I don’t get raped and/or murdered while going about my daily life’

The new app and phone service by BT is a ‘walk me home’ tool, allowing users to opt in to a GPS tracking system where an alert is triggered if they don’t reach their destination on time.

You’d put your destination into the app which then calculates the expected journey time and begins the GPS tracking. If you don’t make it in the time it expects you will then you’d get an alert, failure to respond to which would issue calls to emergency contacts and then the police.

It’s suggested it could also work as a text or phone service activated by calling a phone number, for example 888 – which just reminds me of an online casino, but that’s another conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely theory. BT chief executive Philip Jansen just wants to do his bit to help women get home safely (though I’m sure there’s a buck or two to be made here, too), and it’s nice of him to come up with the suggestion.

But this won’t help us get home safely. If anything, it’ll just mean that our bodies will be found quicker – that’s if our rapist or murderer doesn’t deactivate the app on our phones first.

I hate to be a cynic, but I am also utterly fed up of being told that it’s up to me to ensure that I don’t get raped and/or murdered while going about my daily life.

I am fed up of calling someone on the way home in the hope it makes me look like less of an easy target. I am fed up of carrying my keys between my knuckles, looking over my shoulder, altering my route to avoid dark shortcuts or quiet bus stops.

I can picture the police interviews now: ‘What were you wearing? Were you drunk? Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you use the 888 service?’

Walking around London as a woman has become a lot like trying to find a secure place to keep a bicycle in this city. It’s about doing as much as you can to deter a criminal, but knowing deep down that no matter how many fancy locks, GPS tracking apps or makeshift pepper spray bottles you have, if someone wants it, they will take it.



'The 888 app is simply a high-tech version of a largely useless precaution women have been taking for years: saying 'text me when you get home', waiting up worrying until they do, and wondering what you could do if they don't.'
‘The 888 app is simply a high-tech version of a largely useless precaution women have been taking for years: saying ‘text me when you get home’, waiting up worrying until they do, and wondering what you could do if they don’t.’

The 888 scheme is set to cost around £50m and could be launched by Christmas, and Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that she’s “now looking at it with [her] team and liaising with BT.”

That’s £50m of public money that could go towards fixing our broken criminal justice system to ensure more than 1.6 per cent of rape cases end in a charge or summons, or to funding specialist services that could protect women, rather than just asking us to protect ourselves.

The 888 app is simply a high-tech version of a largely useless precaution women have been taking for years – saying ‘text me when you get home’, waiting up worrying until they do, and wondering what you could do if they don’t.



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We need schemes that target the perpetrators of male violence, not ones that give women another thing to put on their safety checklist.

We need real, tangible change, before it’s too late again.

What do you think of the new 888 app suggestion? Tell us in the comments here.





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