999 buttons installed at all Fire and Rescue Stations as next phase of Safe Havens

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) has now installed Safe Haven 999 buttons on all 47 Fire and Rescue Stations across South Wales. In November 2021, SWFRS stations introduced the Safe Haven initiative, whereby any member of the public who finds themselves in immediate danger can go to one of our stations to request urgent assistance from either the Fire and Rescue Service, or the police. So far this year, there have been 14 Safe Haven incidents.

In August 2022, Safe Haven 999 hotline buttons were installed on a trial basis at Tredegar and Cardiff Central Stations. Following the success of this trial, hotline buttons were installed at all Fire and Rescue Service Stations across South Wales.

Although the Police are the first emergency service who should be contacted, this initiative allows anyone who is in immediate danger due to domestic abuse, stalking, or any other imminent threat, to go to their nearest SWFRS Station for help from the crew, or push the 999 button if there is no crew present at the time. This progression of the Safe Havens initiative stands alone from White Ribbon accreditation, but has been launched as an integral part of the Service’s ongoing commitment to reducing incidents of violence against women and girls, across the South Wales region. The 2023 theme for White Ribbon is to ‘Change the Story’.

Head of Risk Reduction, Christian Hadfield, said,

“South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is known for protecting our communities by fighting fires and rescuing people, but we have an essential responsibility for keeping people safe from harm through being a Safe Haven for people to find solace at a time of need or distress.

Our Fire Stations are fully committed to supporting and protecting anyone experiencing domestic abuse and other threats, as a way to reduce risk to our communities. As Safe Havens, they are a place of safety where members of the public can go if they are feeling vulnerable, at risk or are feeling under threat from harm. Our Stations are welcoming and friendly places in the heart of the community, making them ideal locations for Safe Havens.

Our Firefighters are experienced in helping people in traumatic times and the initiative will help us to continue to serve the public when they need us most.

Since we started the Safe Havens initiative, we have been alerted to 14 incidents, including where people are using them to escape domestic abuse and other occasions where we have been able to assist our communities in the moment when they’ve needed it.”

Between 1 January and 15 November this year, 14 Safe Havens incidents have been recorded.

Incidents included: a male who was homeless and was struggling on their first night on the streets, a potential spiking incident of a female, a male who had been assaulted, teenage runaways, and other incidents where people felt at immediate risk.

Firefighters already have the SFJ Award or Skills for Justice qualification as part of their training to manage instances where people are distressed, and will also be receiving further safeguarding training. Safe Havens are not intended for use in all circumstances, and only where an adult or child is in immediate danger. If someone attends and is not in immediate danger, they may be signposted to other services and organisations who are better placed to help.