Millions receive test emergency alert across the UK as review launched into why it failed for some mobile users

23 April 2023, 15:13 | Updated: 24 April 2023, 01:15

The moment the emergency alert went off on Wembley way

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A review will be carried out to establish why a “very small proportion of mobile users” weren't among the millions who received the test of a new national emergency alert on Sunday.

A loud, 10-second alarm that sounded on phones was heard across the country with many going off just before 3pm.

The Cabinet Office said though the “vast majority of compatible phones” received the alert, it was aware that the 10- second alarm and message notification wasn't delivered to some users.

Customers on mobile network Three were among those who reported not receiving test.

The firm has said it would be working with the Government to work out what happened.

Many of those that did receive an altert reported it going off early, with the alarm's audible outside Wembley stadium at 2.58pm.

LBC's tech correspondent Will Guyatt wrote: "For the first time ever, the government does something early. Alert received at 14:59:35."

Read More: Everything you need to know about today's emergency alert test

One Twitter user wrote: "I forgot about it and I was eating and I just dropped ketchup on me."

Another said: "[Mine] was at 2.59pm, and my teenagers almost fell off the sofa."

John Eldon tweeted: "Was that it? It sounded like they were going to announce tuppence off cabbages in Lidl. Well, that's going by the sound my husband's phone made - mine didn't go off at all."

James McInerney wrote: "3pm test at 14:59" with a laughing emoji.Donna tweeted: "Was that it!!!!!"

Wez wrote: "Well the govt alert system was a big fail, my phone worked but other family members didn’t… just the confidence you need in a life or death situation."

The government said it expected the alert to reach 90 per cent of mobile phone users in the UK.

There has been some criticism over the alarm's introduction, with particular concern for those suffering from domestic abuse.

Emma Pickering, senior operations tech abuse manager at Refuge, said: "Our concerns are centred on the very real risk to survivors of domestic abuse who may have secret or secondary phones hidden within the home, which they must ensure are not discovered by their perpetrators.

"These devices can be a lifeline for women who need to access support or flee their abuser."

"These alerts will come through as a loud siren even if devices are on silent and could alert an abuser to a concealed device," she added.

Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, previously said: "For 10 seconds, the national test may be inconvenient for some, but please forgive us for the intrusion.

"The next time you hear it - your life, and the life-saving actions of our emergency services, could depend on it."

Why has it been set up?

The UK's emergency alert system went off for the first time today
The UK's emergency alert system went off for the first time today. Picture: UK GOV

Today's alert was just a test of the new emergency alert system.

Once up and running, the system will be used to warn citizens of extreme weather events, including floods, wildfires and terror attacks.

The government has been planning the date and time of the alert carefully to avoid a clash with significant events.

Read More: Twitter users baffled after blue ticks return to some accounts despite 'not paying for them'

It had been planned for early evening on April 23, but it was moved to avoid clashing with the FA Cup semi-final, which kicks off at 4.30pm.

The government said it was also wanted to avoid clashing with the London Marathon, which started at 9.30am on Sunday.

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