VICTIMS of domestic violence are to be given cash to put "panic rooms" in their homes.

A scheme launched by Lewisham Council will allow them to create a secure room where they can seek sanctuary from their abuser if they need to.

The Safer Homes Project, which is costing £57,000 for a six-month pilot, is aimed at helping people who have left an abusive partner feel safer.

Member for community safety Councillor Crada Onuegbu said: "We are making support for our victims a priority and are always looking for new and better ways to prevent abuse from continuing.

"By adopting the Safer Homes Project, it will help give valuable time for victims to alert the police who can then act quickly to ensure action is taken against abusers."

Victims will be referred by domestic violence agencies and need to go through a risk assessment and meet a set of criteria before being given a grant.

Properties will be assessed to find the most suitable room.

Locks, grills and reinforced doors could be installed, as well as a Linkline used to alert emergency services.

The scheme, which starts in April, could help up to 19 people initially.

It will be funded by Lewisham Council and the Government Office for London.

Viv Blake, the manager at a Women's Aid refuge in Lewisham for victims of domestic violence, said: "It seems like a very good idea.

"Often women do still feel traumatised after they've moved to a safe place, and this sort of thing might just add some security to their lives."

The project will be co-ordinated and monitored by a multi-agency steering group, which will include Lewisham Council, the fire service, police, a domestic violence co-ordinator, Linkline and domestic violence voluntary groups.

For more about the project, call 020 8314 9120 or email community