New personal safety alarm by-passes 999 queue


The Pick Guardian is the latest device from tech company Pick Protection, which is expanding its lone-worker protection technology to individuals, giving them the highest priority police response if needed. 

There has been a renewed focus on personal safety in recent years, as alarming numbers of violent attacks in the UK prompt questions about how best to keep yourself safe. 

In 2022, there were over 2 million violent attacks reported in the UK. The 999 switchboard receives a call every three seconds, and the average time to connect to the police across the UK is 16 seconds. Their target is to answer in under 10 seconds, and stats vary from force to force based on a variety of factors. Emergency services are known to release audio of time-wasting phone calls in a bid to educate people that the line is for life-and-death situations only. 

Personal safety apps have emerged in response to a flurry of stories around senseless crimes, offering to notify emergency contacts by tapping a button on your phone, or alerting them if your journey home is taking longer than expected, while SOS functions on your smartphone and smartwatch can all you to call 999 with a few taps. 

These features, while offering peace of mind to the users, have led to many false alarms, when people have unknowingly set off an alarm when driving over potholes as one user described in a forum. 

The Pick Guardian is offering a new way to call for help, not just in how someone raises an SOS, but how operators respond.

The organisation behind the new alarm already protects thousands of employees around the UK who are classed as lone workers. Their monitoring service has the highest level of accreditation in this area – a BS8484 – which means operators can go directly to a police control room with a unique reference number, and request a level 1 police response. This is the highest level of response available, and this service is something that has previously been unable to purchase on an individual basis.

The release of the Pick Guardian brings Pick Protection back to its route in a personal attack alarm, prototyped by founder Rebecca Pick, then a student at Strathclyde University, after she heard of an attack on her neighbour. The prototype was a wearable alarm, which shared your GPS location, could be worn under clothes, and opened a communication line with operators outside the 999 switchboards. This is kind of like an alarm setup you would have on your home, but for yourself. 

After moving into the lone worker sector, Pick Protection has had seven years to fine-tune its safety devices, and the Pick Guardian is the culmination of working with organisations in all sectors in that time. 

The alarm pairs an app in the user’s smartphone with a small Bluetooth trigger device, which can be attached to keys or any other items you’d have on you every day. Trying to ensure that lone workers have their safety devices on them at all times has led Pick Protection to create something that uses advanced everyday tech found in our phones, while offering users the ability to raise an alarm simply, quickly and discreetly, without having to get their phone out. 

Remembering how your phone is set up to send an SOS, or unlocking it to call 999 or press a panic button is going to be tough under high-stress situations, whereas, with the Pick Guardian, users need only to double click a small button to be connected to operators in less than six seconds. At that point, they are sharing their GPS, and all audio is being recorded to be used as evidence if necessary. 

The Pick Guardian is currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo and has already received backing from car retail giant Arnold Clark, who will be funding the use of hundreds of alarms on behalf of vulnerable people who are most in need of extra confidence in their safety. 

Find out more about the Pick Guardian and purchase an alarm at a discounted price ahead of the wider launch later this year.