A new safe haven scheme has been launched to protect victims of violence, intimidation and harassment across Merseyside fire stations.
Members of the public who feel threatened or at risk will be able to seek refuge at their nearest secure fire station. They will also provide those individuals with the opportunity to report hate crime or domestic violence should they feel that this action is appropriate.
Working in association with Liverpool City Council, the Old Swan station is the first safe haven to be unveiled following others on the Wirral such as Wallasey, Bromborough and West Kirby which were approved for such use last year.
Phil Garrigan, Merseyside Deputy Chief Fire Officer, wants the community to take advantage of the scheme.
He said: “Our stations are there as a place of safety where they can go if they are feeling vulnerable, at risk or are feeling under threat from harm. Fire stations are welcoming and friendly places in the heart of the community, making them ideal locations for safe havens.”
Wavertree MP Luciana Berger and Citysafe Chairman Councillor Emily Spurrell are working closely with the launch.
Cllr Spurrell told JMU Journalism: “I am really pleased we are working with the fire department to ensure more safety in the community, especially those who have no support or a place to turn to.
“This new initiative will make vulnerable people or those who feel intimidated know that there is somewhere they can go where they will be safe.”
The safe havens will be available 24 hours a day where victims can call for emergency service assistance.
Merseyside Police said that when the first 35 safe havens opened across North Liverpool in 2011 they helped significantly reduce violent crime in nearby areas.
Ben Ryder, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s district manager for Liverpool, said: “The safe havens will allow anyone who is feeling threatened to approach a community fire station and ask for help with the knowledge that they are in a safe place.
“Of a night, if fire fighters are at the station, the safe haven sign will be illuminated, letting people know the station is available as a place of sanctuary.”