People at risk of domestic abuse have been urged to turn off any devices they want to keep hidden ahead of the launch of the UK’s emergency alert this Sunday.
Charities have warned the alert could reveal the location of a victim’s hidden phone to their abusers.
The emergency test system will roll out at 3pm on Sunday and will send a loud siren-like noise to UK tablets and phones along with a warning message that will appear on the lockscreen.
Domestic abuse charities have warned there is a “very real risk” the alert could put those experiencing abuse in danger. Those suffering from domestic abuse may have secret phones that could help them flee from their abuser.
Charities have now issued instructions for victims on how to prevent the emergency alert from sounding on a device.
Emma Pickering, the senior operations tech abuse manager at the charity Refuge, said: “Next week, the government plans to send a test alert to all devices including tablets, as well as phones.
“These alerts will come through as a loud siren even if devices are on silent, and could alert an abuser to a concealed device.
“We are pleased that the government is now issuing proactive communications which highlight the very real risk of these alerts to survivors of domestic abuse, who may have hidden or secret phones.
“Refuge’s technology-facilitated abuse and economic empowerment team have put together two videos on how to turn these alerts off, both on Android phones and on iPhones for anyone that is concerned that these alerts will put their safety at risk.
“We want to ensure as many survivors as possible know how to ensure these alerts are turned off on their hidden devices.
“We have more information on securing your devices – for example your location settings or privacy settings – on refugetechsafety.org.”
The UK Government has said the incoming mobile alert system could eventually be used to sound the alarm for terror attacks, nuclear threats and dangerous criminals on the loose.
It will initially be used to warn people about severe weather situations including floods and wildfires in their local area, but the alerts, which operate through smartphones, could later be used for other forms of emergencies.