HC Deb 15 July 2003 vol 409 c285W
Lady Hermon

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the 24-hour national helpline for victims of domestic violence will be available in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on its operations. [121259]

Yvette Cooper

A national 24-hour telephone helpline service for victims of domestic violence already exists in Northern Ireland. This is run by the Women's Aid Federation of Northern Ireland (NIWAF). It offers advice, support and crisis intervention for abused women, as well as information and guidance to all agencies relating to specific cases. The experienced and trained staff receive around 35,000 calls a year.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is also working with Comic Relief on the production of an online information system that will be available for domestic violence service providers and the major helpline services across the UK. This will enable NIWAF to provide key information to people who call the helpline in Northern Ireland more quickly than before, and with the most up to date data on refuge vacancies, so people can be directed to the most appropriate support quickly and effectively.