Bus tickets to carry hotline for domestic abuse victims

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BUS tickets are advertising a hotline for domestic abuse sufferers in a bid to encourage victims to come forward and seek support.

Thousands of tickets for Lothian and First bus journeys in West Lothian will feature the hotline number over this weekend as part of a new Christmas campaign.

A phone number, website and a QR code are printed on the tickets so victims can easily contact the Domestic Abuse Helpline, a charity designed to provide help and guidance to sufferers. Police chiefs said the details on the tickets were “deliberately subtle” so victims will not be worried about being caught carrying them by an abusive partner.

The police’s advertising trailer will also be located in various prominent sites in West Lothian throughout the festive period.

The campaign is aimed at empowering victims and giving them “practical tools they can really use to break free” of the cycle of abuse.

Assistant Chief Constable Graham Sinclair said that domestic abuse remained a “vastly under-reported” crime. He added: “People often think domestic abuse is purely about physical violence, however many people suffer years of verbal and emotional abuse which is just as damaging.

“Domestic abuse saps the confidence of victims and leaves them in a constant state of fear and anxiety.

“For women suffering domestic abuse, taking the bus this weekend could be the first step on a much more important journey.”

In October, it was revealed that more than 10,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to Lothian and Borders Police last year as the number of victims coming forward reached record levels.

Figures released by the Scottish Government showed that 10,185 incidents were recorded in the force area between April last year and March. Of these, 2132 took place in West Lothian.

With more than one victim alerting police every hour, the number of reports was believed to be the highest on record for the force.

Liz Kelly, from the Domestic Abuse Helpline, said the charity welcomed the bus ticket campaign. She added: “We will work closely with the police during this initiative and give our assurance that anyone affected by domestic abuse will be offered support and information at any time of the day or night.

“The telephone number is 0800 027 1234, and is free from landlines.”

In February, a pilot scheme saw a dedicated court set up at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to deal with all domestic abuse prosecutions from the south and east of the city.