What is the Hollie Guard safeguarding app? How you can use it to stay safe


BBC regional news presenter Alex Lovell revealed that an app called Hollie Guard provided her with great comfort during two years of rape threats from 68-year-old Gordon Hawthorn.

The app in question uses a number of safeguarding features designed to help those in a threatening situation, and has been downloaded more than 25,000 times.

Ms Lovell, who works for BBC Points West, spoke about the free app’s ability to shake your phone when in danger to alert a chosen contact.

Hollie Guard came about following the murder of Hollie Gazzard, who was 20 years old when she was stabbed multiple times by her ex-boyfriend, Asher Maslin, 22, on February 18, 2014.

The former security guard was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 24 years behind bars for stabbing Ms Gazzard 14 times, four days after she ended their year-long relationship, in which she suffered repeated violence at his hands.

In the wake of her death, Ms Gazzard’s family set up a trust in memory of the hairdresser and partnered with mobile security company Panic Guard on the Hollie Guard app.

“We’re delighted that the app was of comfort to Alex and one of the things that we believe it does provide is to help individuals feel safe,” said Hollie’s father Nick Gazzard.

“We would hope that no one would have the cause to use it but if they do the functionality is there to use, to help them stay safe.”

Hollie Guard not only allows you to shake or tap your smartphone screen to send out an alert, but it also transmits the user’s location and any audio or video evidence.

People can set different alert settings to suit their needs, such as a meeting timer that can be set before seeing someone new – simply write out a description of the meet up beforehand and the information will be sent to the emergency contact once the timer expires.

When travelling, users can also get the app to notify friends and family of their movements, by providing start and end points.

Hollie Gazzard
Hollie Gazzard was murdered by ex-boyfriend Asher Maslin in February 2014 (Gloucestershire Police/PA)

“We have about 25,000 people who are using it and it’s recommended by a number of police forces and used by a number of police forces for individuals that might have been subject to various crimes or are vulnerable within their particular area,” Mr Gazzard said.

“We work very closely with Derbyshire Police and Cleveland, Kent and we were with the Metropolitan Police yesterday, so it’s getting more known and more widespread, recommended more, and particularly around university campuses as well.”

The app has proved life saving in non-stalker related cases too, Mr Gazzard added, including one woman who was jogging and was about to go into a diabetic coma.

Hollie Guard is available to download for free on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Chris Price
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