Why, if the police will attend your alarm, do you need an alarm response service? Because, as Acclaimed Security’s Richard McElroy explains, there are many occasions when the police may not be there.
Let’s address the question at the top of this page. Yes, the police will generally attend alarm activations at your business premises. But they may not attend immediately and, in some instances, they may not attend at all.
What happens when an alarm is activated?
Most alarm systems aren’t connected directly with the emergency services. Instead, alarm alerts are managed by intermediaries in an alarm receiving centre (ARC). These are the people you pay to monitor your system and action any alerts.
What happens next is determined by the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s (ACPO) Police Response to Security Systems, which sets out the level of service you can expect from the police.
The alarm system
First, any alarm system installed since June 2019 must conform to PD 6662:2017 and BS 8243 to qualify for police response. If yours doesn’t, then the ARC won’t be able to contact the police in the event of an activation. They will only be able to contact the keyholder.
Police response levels
There are three defined levels of police response in the event of an alarm activation (although level 2 has fallen out of favour with most forces).
Level 1: The police will respond immediately to an ARC-confirmed activation. Despite the wording, the devil is in the detail here. An activation is not “confirmed” when an alarm is triggered for the first time. It is only confirmed once the ARC receives notification that a second device has been activated.
So whilst the ARC can contact the keyholder immediately on activation of a single alarm, they won’t alert the police unless and until a further activation confirms movement within the premises. Clearly, this means there may be a delay – sometimes a significant delay depending on the layout and number of your security sensors – between the initial indication something may be wrong and an alert being issued to the police.
Levels 2 & 3: Where the police are called to repeated false alarms, the requirement to attend any subsequent alarm callout may drop. Level 2, now rarely used, described a reduction is service for premises with two false alarms in a 12 month period. Today, most forces skip straight to level 3 which states that where three false alarms are attended in a 12 month period, the police will only attend a further alarm call at the premises where a member of the public has reported an incident.
A comprehensive security response
All of the above presents an issue for business owners. In general terms, the police should attend a suspected incident. But the ‘second trigger’ rule means there’s almost always a delay. And if you’re a business that’s struggling with an intermittent fault on your alarm that has led to a few false callouts, you could quickly find yourself without police backup.
Why an alarm response service matters
It’s easy to think of an alarm response service of the sort we provide as a ‘safety net’ but in truth it’s far more than that. Hand our licensed and trained security professionals your keys and they will be the ones the ARC contacts. They will be first on the scene. They will be the ones that could catch intruders in the act, ensure damage is minimised or, at the very least, ensure they attend false alarm activations so the police don’t have to – and so you avoid the police ‘blacklist’.
It costs just £1 a day for us to hold your keys. It costs just £40 for a 30 minute callout (usually sufficient to identify a false alarm). That seems a very small amount to ensure that, when you need it most, you’ll always have the security provision you need.