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Only compliant Alarms will ensure an immediate police response

As part of National Home Security Month 2021, Ken Meanwell looks at alarms, one of the many essential tools in the fight against crime, and what you should be looking for in an alarm system.

Ken is the Compliance Manager at Police Crime Prevention Initiatives, who operate the Secured by Design initiative. He also provides the secretariat for the National Police Chiefs’ Council Security Systems Group and works closely with leading certification and trade bodies for the security industry to ensure the technical standards and codes of practice are adhered to.

Alarms are one of the many essential tools in the fight against crime, and in particular burglary, theft and robbery. Previous academic research shows professionally installed alarm systems provide a greater deterrent and properties fitted out with them are less likely to be targeted by criminals, who know they may well be monitored. Burglars want easy pickings and avoid properties with effective security.

The two main types of alarm systems are audible alarms and monitored alarms. However, they operate differently and are treated differently by the police.

Audible alarms sound a loud siren or bell, designed to scare a burglar and alert neighbours and passers-by at the scene, hoping that they will then call the police to report a crime in progress.

In contrast monitored alarms are just that – monitored 24/7 by an approved commercial ‘Alarm Receiving Centre’ or ARC. When an alarm is triggered the ARC immediately checks the signal to verify it is a genuine alarm, alerts a keyholder and, if necessary, the police.

However, a key point to note is the police will attend an alarm signal from a monitored alarm as long as the system complies with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Security Systems Policy, which details how the system is installed, monitored and maintained. It also requires security companies providing this service to be approved by an Independent Inspectorate Body - the NSI or the SSAIB and registered with the local police force.

It is therefore critical to both check that an alarm system is compliant and to only use a reputable alarm company which has been approved by one of the Independent Inspectorate Bodies. These are the aforementioned NSI (National Security Inspectorate - and the SSAIB (Security Systems & Alarm Inspection Board - Anybody can check-out installers’ credentials at the Inspectorates’ websites to ensure that a security company installing alarms is genuinely approved.

Compliant alarms and reputable installation companies and ARCs are essential to ensure that you will get the appropriate response to an alarm activation. If the alarm is not compliant there will not be an immediate police response, something which could be vital if someone is in immediate danger or property is being stolen.

Having an alarm system certified by one of the accredited independent Inspectorate Bodies will ensure you have a reliable and well maintained system that meets relevant British and European standards and which could result in lower insurance premiums.

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