Cops launch 999 text hotline for deaf

In and around Liverpool...

In and around Liverpool...

Police on Merseyside have built a text messaging system for 250,000 people with hearing difficulties to log emergencies if they cannot use a phone.

Other emergency services in the area, including ambulance, coastguard and fire brigades, are linked to the system, which was also designed for speech impaired people.

A spokesman for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) said: "The deaf community has been asking for this for such a long time. It's something that gives them a bit more independence. At home they can use text phones but outside they can use mobiles. It's been very well received."

The police are set to co-ordinate the service, which is activated by texting the number 61051. MFRS said the texts would be send to a police control room. Text writers are asked to give their location and a description of the event.

Around 5,000 deaf people who communicate through British Sign Language live on Merseyside.

In a statement, chief superintendent Colin Matthews of Merseyside Police said: "This is one example of how we can improve our service and I am sure that we can develop many new and innovative ways for all our communities to improve access to the services."

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is said to be looking to launch similar projects nationwide.

The RNID, a national deaf charity, was unable to respond for comment in time for the publication of this article.