Internet kiosks help domestic violence victims

London women are turning to public Internet points to access information and advice about domestic abuse

A pilot scheme that allows victims of domestic violence to seek help through Internet kiosks is proving very successful among London women.

Four public Internet points across the capital have been installed with a new channel, which provides advice and helpline information for victims of abusive relationships. Cityspace, the IT company that provides the i-plus network of kiosks for the Greater London Authority (GLA), reports that the level of response has been encouraging, with an average of eight women a day using the kiosks for advice on mental or physical abuse.

The initiative has been coordinated by Margaret Moran MP, chair of the All-Party Domestic Violence Group, and is backed by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, and the Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP). "I don't think it will be successful with every woman, but for younger women who are literate at using these machines, it will be a useful way of getting information safely and anonymously, without spending a lot of time," said Jo Todd, national development worker at DVIP.

Current parliamentary statistics show that one in four women is abused by their partners. The i-plus points are intended to offer an anonymous route to victim support services, while their public location is hoped to bypass controlling partners who may monitor phone bills and home Internet access. All information available on the i-plus channel can be obtained as a print-out from the booths.

The domestic violence service is currently being piloted at kiosks in Kensington & Chelsea, Southwark, Westminster, and Islington. It will be rolled out to other i-plus networks in early January.

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