Dad of murdered Hollie Gazzard calls for push on emergency number for women

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The dad of a young woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend is calling on the Government and phone companies to bring in a special emergency number to save lives.

Nick Gazzard's daughter Hollie was stabbed to death in the salon she worked in as she was nearing the end of her shift.

Her killer was known to her - it was the man she had broken up with just days before.

Nick, from Gloucestershire, is now calling on BT and the Government to make good on plans for an "888" emergency phone service to protect lone women.

The service, which would track vulnerable women's journeys and trigger an alarm if they failed to reach their destination, was proposed last October by BT in the wake of the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard.

The hair salon where Hollie Gazzard was working when she was stabbed to death in 2014.

At the time, Home Secretary Priti Patel endorsed the proposals and publicly stated that her office was "liaising with BT" on the scheme.

But eight months on, the "walk me home" project appears to have stalled, raising questions about whether it will ever see the light of day.

Nick, who has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of domestic abuse and stalking since his daughter's death, believes it's time that BT bosses and Government ministers work on ensuring the potentially life-saving scheme is given the green light.

Nick, the founder of the Hollie Gazzard Trust, said: "This could make a big difference to people, particularly in those areas where they have to walk home, perhaps there is not the taxi service, or they can't afford taxis, there isn't the CCTV around to help.

Hollie Gazzard's parents Mandy and Nick pictured at her funeral in May 2014 Credit: PA

"So when BT announced this we were really pleased that they did. Whilst we have our Hollie Guard app, the more we have out there to protect women and girls in particular the better. So it's disappointing when BT didn't or haven't so far followed through on this. We are eight months down the line now. And we have had even more women killed."

Nick says he will never forget the day his daughter was taken from him. Now he does all he can to protect young women like Hollie.

He's developed an app called Hollie Guard and campaigns tirelessly to raise awareness of domestic abuse and stalking.

Then the idea of an 888 "walk me home" service was developed in response to public outrage over the murder of Sarah Everard.

The Hollie Gazzard Trust says the Hollie Guard App is helping to save the lives of others.

In October BT said it could have been in operation by Christmas. Just last weekend another young woman - 35 year old Zara Allena died - police say she was a victim of an opportunist stranger attack in London.

Nick added: "Apps might have saved their life. We don't know it would have done but it might have helped... and when I hear these things happening I feel it in the pit of my stomach.

"Why aren't people acting. Why aren't people following through on their promises, the government, BT. It's as if they have blood on their hands as a result of this and we need to do something about it."

Hollie Gazzard was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend in 2014. Credit: Family

A Home Office spokesperson said: "This is a private sector initiative and implementation is a matter for BT.

"Our Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy focuses on increasing support for survivors and bringing perpetrators to justice.

"Last September we launched the pilot of an online tool, StreetSafe, which enables the public to anonymously report areas where they feel unsafe and we have invested £70 million into local authorities and police forces  through our Safer Streets Fund to detect and reduce neighbourhood crime.”

Nick says he is always working towards an end goal - that every female feels safe to walk home alone.

A BT spokesperson said: “The objective here has been to see how BT can lend its expertise to the cause of personal safety – made necessary because of male violence. There is already a rich ecosystem of services and developing ideas – our approach has been to work with the innovators pursuing that work, and, of course, with groups focused on women’s safety.

"We’ve developed a solid body of new tech development.  We now need to establish whether this should take the form of a new BT service or whether it makes more sense to make our research and development work freely available for the wider benefit of those working on this.”