In an Australian first, in 2016 the Salvation Army partnered with a private security company, Protective Group, in a large-scale project to provide safety solutions to family violence victims and to prevent domestic violence. The Safer In The Home project launched in September 2016, operates in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. By 2018 the project aims to provide services to over 600 clients across the country.
What is notable about this project is the involvement of a private security company. Private security companies are typically contracted by large businesses, governments and wealthy individuals to provide personal security services. They rarely partner with charitable organisations to prevent domestic violence.
Since 2013, Protective Group has been working with a number of family violence services including the Safe Futures Foundation, Wishin Foundation and Salvation Army in Victoria. Between 2013 and 2015 they provided services to over 200 victims.
Protective Group draws on their former experience as Victoria Police officers and expertise in security to debug homes of malicious surveillance, provide advice on the justice process and suggest interim security solutions. These include 3G Safety Watches and SafeT Cards. A 12 month partnership pilot with Protective Group and Safe Futures Foundation found that using the SafeT Card system resulted in a “100% deterrence” in perpetrators breaching intervention orders.
Initial experiences indicate that private security companies can provide a beneficial service to victims that is distinct from those provided by the police and other family violence services.
Private security companies can provide a high level of attentiveness in responding to victim’s fears and needs. Victoria Police receive a domestic violence related call every two minutes and recorded over 68,000 incidents in 2014 alone. This results in overstretched police resources and contributes to a recognised inability to respond effectively to all cases.
Alternatively, private security companies can offer more practical support and implement a variety of security strategies to further prevent domestic violence. These are individually tailored and more focused on the question: “what can be done to make you feel safe?”
Likewise, police responses tend to involve the credibility of the victim being challenged. Research from Queensland has documented that police can often trivialise, minimise, disbelieve or consider the complaint “not that serious” or “annoying”.
Trial of Safe T Card Used to Prevent Domestic Violence
The Safe T Card is the newest technology to prevent domestic violence, and it has a 100 per cent success rate.
12 women wore the device for a twelve-month pilot project. There were zero incidences of harm while women were wearing the card. There are now thirty women using it daily, and hundreds more requests.
Janine Mahoney, the CEO of Safe Futures Foundation, says results from the trial of the SafeTCard trial were extremely encouraging.
‘What we found was, of the women in the trial, all of them had been breached at least daily and some of them were being breached multiple times every day,’ says Mahoney.
‘Post- the trial, there has not been one single face-to-face breach in 12 months for those women.’
Victims of abuse wearing the card press the button. It sends an emergency trigger to a security centre tracking the owner’s location. An immediate audio recording is activated and that feed goes to police and paramedics if needed. As they are receiving both location data and audio, they can monitor the situation and act quickly. Monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the card also features an amber alert function, 2-way talk and a lanyard rip alarm.
All the information is securely stored on a server and can be used as evidence against the perpetrator.
The trial was conducted in Victoria and was supported by Victoria Police.
‘We have worked collaboratively with them, and by deterring people serving orders, it will actually free up police time,’ says Mahoney
There are proposals for a wider roll-out of the card, as well as plans to install cameras which would record and instantly transmit visual images.
Police hope the card will assist in identifying and profiling repeat offenders, as well as facilitate improved information sharing across agencies including Child Protection and Family Services, to better help women and children at risk.