Brits informed when next UK-wide ‘Armageddon alert’ test may happen

A top Whitehall official warned today that nationwide tests of a “Armageddon” Government emergency warning might take place every two years.

Following the “massively successful” test in April, Roger Hargreaves, director of the Cabinet Office’s Cobra emergencies committee unit, assured MPs that future testing would be conducted.

“It is international standard practice to do regular test messages. I think there is a case for doing it every two years, but we haven’t got a ministerial decision on that,” he said. “Every two years is what we would probably advise ministers but we’re yet to get a view on that.”

This would pave the way for a test in April 2025. He also revealed one in 10 mobile phones failed to receive during the first nationwide test in April. He blamed network operator Three for millions of devices not receiving the vibrating siren message.

Confirming “about 90%” of handsets got the alert, Mr Hargreaves told the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: “We would have hoped to get higher than that. The big drop off in available phones was because one of the networks – Three – the message didn’t go through to all users, it went to about 10% of their users in England rather than all of them.

The alert rang for 10 seconds and displayed a message notifying phone users that no action was needed in response to the test. Some smartphones also read out the message.

Mr Hargreaves told MPs: “Even with what happened with Three it was still massively successful from our perspective because it reached so many more people than any other comparable means of communication that we previously had access to.”

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