The typical pin pull alarms have been making some noise in the week following coronation-arrest controversy. With the emergence of new ways to request help, from app-based alarms to smartwatches, how effective is this device for self-defence?
The purpose of noise-based rape alarms is to help to draw attention to an attacker and potentially deter them from continuing the assault. While recommended, the UK's National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) also suggest these should be carried as one of a number of measures to reduce the risk of assault, including learning self-defence techniques, avoiding dangerous situations, and seeking help from bystanders or law enforcement.
One limitation of noise-based rape alarms is that they rely on someone else hearing the alarm and responding to the situation. In some cases, there may not be anyone nearby who can hear the alarm or who is able to respond quickly enough to prevent harm. Additionally, some attackers may be undeterred by an alarm and may continue the assault regardless.
Pick Protection founder Rebecca Pick created a prototype for a wearable alarm which sent the users GPS and opened a call with operators, when her neighbour was sexually assaulted in a built-up area. Despite calls for help, no one came to the woman’s aid.
Pick Protection has since provided protection for employees working in high-risk situations, from British Red Cross to Arnold Clark, and is now preparing to launch a personal alarm, the Pick Guardian, to anybody who would like to feel more confident in their safety.
“Pin-pull alarms, which emit a piercing sound, act in a very different way to something like the Pick Guardian [https://www.pickprotection.com/register-your-interest/], which is designed to be a very discreet way to let emergency services know you're in trouble, as you don’t even need your phone to hand. One is a deterrent and, in some scenarios, a way of getting help. The other is designed to get emergency support as quickly and easily as possible.
Personal safety is a very complex issue and unfortunately very prevalent due to the number of attacks on women each year. There’s no blueprint on how to protect yourself, as every situation is different.”
With many instances where noise-based rape alarms have been effective in drawing attention to an attack and potentially deterring the attacker, there’s a reason they’re recommended by police as one legal form of self-defence. Given they omit a sound that’s equivalent to a jet engine starting up, it’s easy to see how it can be effective in scaring off would-be attackers.
UK law states people are allowed to use “reasonable force to defend themselves from an attack […] Personal alarms can be a helpful tool in drawing attention to an attack and potentially deterring the attacker, but they should not be relied upon as the sole means of self-defence.”
Everyday objects such as an umbrella and physical techniques might be used alongside an alarm as a deterrent, and these suggestions have led to some creative suggestions from the Reddit community looking for inventive ways to defend themselves.
Tailcombs, hairspray and hand sanitiser were mentioned, while others stuck with the long-standing advice of having keys to hand to use in self-defence if necessary.
Discussions on forums around what is or isn’t allowed beyond the noise-based alarms shows just how much personal safety is on people’s minds.
Rebecca Pick notes that the fact people are having to think about self-defence methods as much as they do indicates the wider issue,
“Smartphone safety features, personal alarms and apps don’t fix the problem that 85,000 women experience a sexual assault every year, and 1.7 million women are victims of domestic abuse. Nor do they exist to put the onus on the victim. They’re offering an option for personal protection to hopefully reduce the number of people, women in particular, who are targeted, and give people more confidence in their safety.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Pick Protection has been trading since 2018 and offers lone worker solutions to organisations around the UK. Rebecca Pick is the CEO and founder, and created a prototype for an attack alarm while studying at Strathclyde University in 2013. Pick Protection is crowdfunding for their new Pick Guardian Alarm in June and is asking anyone interested in this to sign up for updates [https://www.pickprotection.com/register-your-interest/].
Alice Bowerman - Marketing Manager
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