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By Carla Fraser
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Dont Let The Emergency Alert Become Personal

On Sunday 23rd April 2023 at 3pm, the UK Government is testing a new Emergency Alert System.  This alert will cause a loud siren like sound, even if the device is set to silent or vibrate, to be played on the majority of mobile phones and tablets which will last approximately 10 seconds.

You can turn the Emergency Alerts off on your phone and the government has also stressed that the alert will not sound if the device is switched off or on airplane mode. The government have issued this guidance after consultation with domestic abuse organisations who warned of the risk this alert will pose to those in danger of domestic abuse as many people at risk keep phone or device hidden from an abusive partner for their own safety. The alert poses a very real risk of these devices being discovered by the abuser.

Women’s Aid Northern Ireland have very helpfully provided guidance and instructions on how Emergency Alerts can be switched off on your device.  This guidance can be found here

If you are suffering domestic abuse, you do not need to suffer in silence. You can apply for Non-Molestation Orders from the Court which can be obtained urgently and without prior notice being given to the abuser.  A Non-Molestation Order provides some protection by prohibiting the abuser from molesting, intimidating or otherwise pestering the applicant or encouraging or instructing any third party to do so.  In some circumstances, children can also be added to Non-Molestation Orders. An exclusion zone prohibiting the abuser from a certain area can be attached to the Order.  Breach of a Non-Molestation Order is a specific criminal offence and therefore can act as a powerful deterrent.

If you have no where to go, you can also seek an Occupation Order which will allow you peaceful occupation of the home that you share.

Legal Aid funding is available for Non-Molestation Order Applications. Even if you would ordinarily be over the financial income limit for legal aid funding, there is a specific scheme which will apply to such applications. You may have a small contribution towards your legal fees however this is nominal.

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