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Safeguarding warning about the Emergency Alerts system test

The Government is testing the new national Emergency Alerts system on 23rd April 2023, but this has serious Safeguarding implications for those encountering abuse and who may be at risk of having a secret device discovered.

The new national Emergency Alerts system is being tested on Sunday 23rd April 2023 at 3pm. This will issue an alert nationally to all compatible mobile phones, tablets, etc to test the system with a loud sound and a message saying: ‘This is a test of Emergency Alerts, a new UK government service that will warn you if there's a life-threatening emergency nearby. In a real emergency, follow the instructions in the alert to keep yourself and others safe. This is a test. You do not need to take any action’. Once the system is live, it will be used to issue alerts about severe flooding, fires, extreme weather, etc. The test alarm will sound a loud siren-like sound and will vibrate the device for about 10 seconds even if it’s set to silent (even using the hard switch on some iPhones, etc). Your mobile phone or tablet does not have to be connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi to get the alerts.

However, this has serious implications for those encountering abuse, who may be at risk if they have a secret mobile phone or tablet hidden from an abusive partner. The only way to stop the alert is to switch the device off or to deactivate the alerts. This can be done by searching your settings for ‘Emergency Alerts’, then turn off ‘Severe alerts’ and ‘Extreme alerts’. A useful video from Refuge showing how you can do this can be seen here:

It’s important to remember that once the system is live, these alerts could go off at any time. Turning the device off will avoid the test on 23rd April, but this is not a long-term solution. If you are hiding a mobile device, deactivating the alerts in its settings is the best solution.

For more information and details, please contact your Church Safeguarding Officer or

Ian Belcher, our Circuit Safeguarding Officer.

More information about the Emergency Alerts system can be found on the Government website at and in this YouTube video.


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