New Emergency Alert system – Domestic Abuse Commissioner and specialist domestic abuse charity Refuge UK share advice and guidance for anyone experiencing domestic abuse in managing their phones to stay safe.

The new Emergency Alert system was launched by The Cabinet Office on 19 March 2023, giving the Government and emergency services the capability to send an alert directly to mobiles phones when there is a risk to life – such as wild fires and severe flooding.

The Government have confirmed a UK-wide alerts test will take place in the early evening of Sunday 23 April which will see people across the country receive a test message on their mobile phones.

The scheme has been met with concern by leading specialist charity Refuge UK who have issued a warning over the safety and security of victims and survivors of domestic abuse, which has been backed by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs. Via social media, The Commissioner has called on all domestic abuse survivors to follow advice and guidance set out by Refuge UK encouraging ‘…anyone who has a secret phone that they may hide from an abusive partner needs to read this and take action to switch it off or put in on airplane mode.’

Noting that ‘…having a secret phone can be a lifeline for survivors’ but that the alert will ‘notify all phones with sounds – including when they are on silent.’, Refuge UK’s specialist tech team have created a guide on managing alerts for both Android and iPhones to prevent a secret or secondary phone being detected by an abuser as a result of the alert.

Anyone working with those experiencing domestic abuse are urged to view the guidance carefully before supporting those they are working with to take the steps necessary to prevent any second or secret phone becoming known to an abuser on or after 23 April. Please also share this information across your organisations, services and networks accordingly so that we can help everyone experiencing domestic abuse to keep safe.

Should anyone wish to know more about technology-assisted abuse, please visit the Refuge Tech Safety website