Buying, selling or running a home – everything you need to know about your home and garden!

House Alarms

Choosing a Burglar Alarm

You will find below advice regarding the choosing of an alarm system. Although this may seem a daunting prospect, by studying the options you may save money and you are more likely to end up with an alarm system that meets your needs.

Police call alarms

These alarms are remote signalling systems that inform an alarm receiving centre and subsequently the police that your alarm has activated. The police do not monitor alarms direct

The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Security Industry Codes of Practice strictly control the installation and monitoring of these systems.

Audible bells only alarms

Audible alarms are the most popular type available. When triggered, a bell or siren will attract the attention of passers by and relies on that person to contact the police.

Choosing a system

You must consider the extra expense of choosing a police call alarm system, compared with the potential loss you would suffer if your home were broken into. Should you decide to have a police call system installed, a recognised alarm installer must install the alarm.

  • The Alarms Inspectorate and Security Council: 01704 500897
  • The Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board: 0191 296 3242

If you install an audible only system, it is still prudent to contact one of the organisations above and obtain a list of alarm installers, or alternatively, choose a company which is a member of a trade organisation.

Do it yourself systems

Perimeter protection

This type of system utilises sensors on the windows and doors of the property, which detect an intruder as he tries to gain access. These systems can be time consuming to fit neatly and effectively. Every possible point of entry must be covered with a suitable device and will therefore require a significant amount of wiring.

Trap protection

This consists of movement detectors in major risk areas such as the hallway living room or a bedroom. An intruder who gains access cannot move around without activating the system. It is simpler to install than the perimeter system and usually less expensive. Most professional installation companies fit this type of alarm or a combination of both types.

False Alarms

The vast majority of alarm calls responded to by the police are false. This wastes millions of pounds in police time.

The blame for false alarms can lie with installation, the alarm system, or more frequently, how the system is used. If you ensure your alarm system is installed to British/European Standards, it is likely that your system is more of a protection to you rather than a headache to the police or neighbours.

Choose a reputable company, install a quality system, though not necessarily the most expensive or complex. Buy a system that you and your family feel comfortable operating. If your alarm malfunctions, get the installer back straight away to have the fault rectified.

Installing the alarm

Study the installation contract before signing it. You must determine whether you will own or rent the system and what the maintenance agreement is.

An alarm installation, which is installed to British/European Standards, requires that there is a hand-over period to make the user familiar with the operation of the system. Go through the user handbook with the installer. If you do not understand any item ask them to explain until you do.

A good installation should cause no damage or mess to decor, and wiring can easily be concealed.

Noise nuisance

The Code of practice on noise from audible intruder alarms 1982 issued under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 will need to be considered in respect of noise pollution. The alarm should be fitted with an automatic cut off device, which will stop the alarm sounding after 20 minutes from activation a strobe light may continue flashing.

Within 48 hours of installing a new system or taking over an existing system, you should notify the police and /or local authority of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the key holders.

Police response to your alarm

Audible bells only systems

To obtain police attendance an additional indication that an offence is in progress will be required. This will require human intervention such as a member of the public, the owner, or key holder visiting, or viewing tour home or some other contact being made. Calls for police attendance will be by the 999 emergency system as appropriate.

Automatic dialling equipment must not be programmed to call the police telephone numbers. If they are programmed to do this, they will not receive a response.

Calls handled by non-compliant alarm receiving centres will not receive an immediate police response. Only the key holder will be contacted unless supported by additional evidence of an offence being committed.

Police call systems

For police call systems there are three levels of police response when the alarm activates.

Level one: all these alarms will receive an immediate police response.

Level two: following two false calls in a 12 month period, the police response will move to level two. This means that police response is desirable but attendance may be delayed if officers are attending to higher priority calls. This level of response will remain until the system has been free of false calls for a period of three months.

Level three: following five false call in a 12 month period, the police response will move to level three. This means there will be no police response. Level one response will be restored following a three-month period free of false calls where evidence is provided that the original problem has been rectified

Questions to ask

  1. Before disclosing your personal details, have you checked the address and credentials of the company?
  2. Inspect proof of identity from the representative?
  3. Has the company been subject to an independent inspection process?
  4. Is the installation of an alarm a requirement of your insurance company and is the company acceptable to the insurance company?
  5. How long has a company been trading?
  6. Does the company have an office in your locality?
  7. Is the company a member of any trade organisation?
  8. Will the quotation specify that the installation will be installed to British/European standards?
  9. Is there a guarantee and terms of contract to future maintenance?
  10. Does the company operate a 24 hour call-out service and emergency attendance within four hours?