UK emergency text services

15 04 2007

Emergency text/sms services are being set up across the UK however there are teething problems. One problem is that some police forces require you to register your phone number with them first – which is okay if you are at home but no use if you are travelling into a different county and you then deal with a different police force. At the moment, every police force seems to be different, there should be a nationally recognised standard. There are problems with having a text emergency service though. Emergency text messages cannot be prioritised by the mobile networks and may take several hours to get through, as when Sally Geeson was trying to text for help. Unlike calls made from a mobile telephone, text messages do not give the location of the sender.

Avon and Somerset police haven’t got it quite right – you can only call them in an emergency if you’ve got access to a landline, and the time to write a fax or call via Typetalk/minicom. Great if someone is breaking into your house or if you’re kidnapped – I don’t call this equal access!

There are 43 police force areas in England and Wales, 8 in Scotland, and one force covers Northern Ireland. The following police forces have emergency text message services for deaf people – are there any others out there?

East Midlands
West Mercia Police
West Yorkshire
London – City of Westminster

Fife, Scotland

Northern Ireland

The CATS (City Alert Texting System) system is a text message service that will warn people of a terrorist attack, where it is taking place and what to do. You sign up to the service with the postcodes of where you live and work, at a cost of £1.50 for each postcode registered. Coverage is currently in these areas. CATS is about to launch an email service as well, which will deliver simultaneous email when an sms text alert is issued.

Check out the SMS Text Blog.




One response

16 04 2007

Gwent Police has this service coming online shortly. I did a vid of the consulation, it is on google video. We are asked to register too, I don’t see an issue with this, as we had pointed out, if the number is publicised in media, it is wide open to abuse from any berk with nothing else to do, spoilers even tapped in to minicom access at one point and left junk and abuse on it, we will be given the code and number via post. They did have a police fax, but we objected to it, because they didn’t man it after 3.30pm or at weekends, or night. As for issues with delays, that remains to be seen as yet.

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