Are personal attack alarms effective?

Can a safety alarm protect you and deter attackers? We compare the effectiveness of traditional and monitored personal attack alarms.

What is a personal attack alarm?

Personal attack alarms, or “panic alarms”, come in several different forms with varying functionality and effectiveness.

A traditional personal attack alarm emits an ear-piecing sound when activated to deter an attacker. These personal attack alarms sometimes include flashing lights, a torch or spray.

Some brands use the term “Rape Alarm” to be used in the event of sexual assault, but generally they have the same purpose: to draw attention to the attack and scare off the assailant.

In contrast, a monitored personal attack alarm does not depend on a loud sound to scare an attacker. It relies on complete discretion where the authorities are alerted to the incident without making the assailant aware.

We compare the effectiveness of traditional and monitored personal attack alarms – particularly in relation to lone worker use and people who work in high-risk roles or high-risk areas e.g. healthcare, social housing, and retail.

In fact, you want to find out more about attacks on UK lone workers, take a look at our blog: How many lone workers are attacked every day.

Do traditional personal alarms deter attackers?

The effectiveness of traditional personal attack alarms has been debated at length in the media.

A traditional safety alarm may deter an attacker, but it is very much dependent on the individual situation, whether bystanders are able to help you, and the location of the attack.

An attacker will generally not want to draw attention, so a very loud sound certainly has the potential to scare an assailant off, giving the victim chase to escape. However, this cannot be guaranteed.

Here are some considerations to think about:

  • When you’ve pressed your personal alarm, the attack may not stop. The attacker may attempt to silence the alarm and injure the victim in the process. Some alarms can be easily muffled if the attacker puts a hand over the noise emitter.
  • An attacker will often wait until they’ve got the victim on their own – out of sight and earshot of others so that no one can step in to assist.
  • The attacker may attempt to throw the device away to divert attention from the real incident.
  • The noise may further aggravate an aggressor causing the situation to worsen.
  • Depending on the sound emitted, people in earshot may mistake the noise for a different type of alarm e.g. a car or house alarm.
  • In a busy city environment, people are often more impervious to emergency alarms and sirens as they hear them regularly. Therefore, they may not act upon hearing a personal attack alarm. Make sure you purchase the loudest personal attack alarm available which has the best distinctive sound and is waterproof.
  • A traditional alarm relies on bystanders to help, rather than the police. Not all bystanders will be able to help.

How effective are monitored personal attack alarms?

A user of a SoloProtect monitored personal attack alarm can raise a “Red Alert” with SoloProtect’s 24/7 UK Monitoring Centre at the push of a button – without making the assailant aware.

Unbeknown to the attacker, the Operators in the Monitoring Centre listen in to the incident via a one-way call to quickly establish the seriousness of the incident. They can also pinpoint the location of the device user using geolocation technology.

The Operator then informs the regional police force directly – rather than going through the 999 system – to ensure the victim gets the quickest possible response.

Can a monitored personal attack alarm protect you?

Notify the police before an attack happens

A significant benefit of a monitored personal attack alarm is that the user can activate the device prior to an attack taking place – providing an extra layer of protection.

As soon as someone’s behaviour provides cause for concern, a discreet “Red Alert” can be activated. Therefore, depending on how quickly the situation escalates, the police could be in attendance to resolve the situation before anyone gets hurt.

Audio can then be used in any legal proceedings following the incident which can be invaluable in ensuring an assailant is brought to justice.

Send help in the event of a sudden attack

If a sudden attack takes place (e.g. a blow to the head) and the device user is unable to press the button on their discreet device, the device can detect that the user has fallen over. The device will then raise an “Incapacitation Alert" or "Man Down Alarm" with the Monitoring Centre. This is a 2-way audio call where the Operator will try to establish what has happened and will send the necessary emergency support.

This would also apply if the user were to collapse due to an unexpected health issue or, in this instance, the user could activate a Red Alert if they were able to. So, a monitored personal safety alarm isn’t just for use in an attack situation. It is multifaceted.

How can a monitored attack alarm help in the aftermath of an attack?

The Operator can also alert the user’s escalation contacts which could be a manager or family member. This is obviously important in the event of a serious incident; however, it can also be useful if a device user encounters a situation that doesn’t escalate to an attack but has left them feeling shaken and in need of support.

Do personal attack alarms work?

Even though a monitored attack safety alarm avoids some of the pitfalls of a traditional attack alarm, users should certainly not be discouraged from using the traditional option.

It’s important to take your own personal safety seriously and be prepared. If your employer hasn’t invested in a personal safety solution for their employees, a traditional personal attack alarm may help to provide you with some reassurance – both in and out of work.

However, a fully monitored lone worker solution provides multidimensional protection from social and environmental risk, providing reassurance that someone will be there to help you whether you’re attacked, verbally abused, or you experience a sudden health problem.

Further information

For more information about our personal attack alarms, please get in touch using the form below.

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