Not All Monitored Intruder Alarms Qualify For Police Response

By: Roy Buckingham

For complete peace of mind, many people choose to have their intruder alarms monitored. If an alarm system is monitored, then, when it detects an intruder it automatically sends a signal via the phone line and/or cellular network to an ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre - these used to be referred to as Central Stations or Monitoring Stations) and the appropriate action is taken. CIA uses Southern Monitoring Services (SMS) Ltd.

New Police/Constabulary Service guidelines (the ACPO Policy on Response to Security - ACPO are the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) state that the Police will now only attend monitored alarms that 'confirm' alarm activations (unless installed pre October 2002).

Confirmation is received when a second detection device is triggered during the same intrusion; therefore, something is definitely on site and moving around and there is less chance of the activation being a false alarm.

On receiving the first activation, the ARC will notify a keyholder but if a second detection device is triggered in the same activation, this confirms to the ARC that 'something' is definitely on site and moving around, and the Police are instantly alerted.To summarise, there are three levels of Police Response.

Level 1 - Immediate.

All systems are attributed to a Level 1 status when they are first installed. After 2 false calls within any 12 month period, Police response will fall to Level 2.

Level 2 - Immediate attendance if possible, but dependent on resource availability.

Systems will remain at Level 2 status until they have been free from false calls for more than 3 months. If the system generates a further 3 false calls, making 5 in any 12 month period, the system will fall to Level 3 status and response will be withdrawn.

Level 3 - No Police attendance unless an offence is confirmed as taking place.

Systems will remain at Level 3 status until they have been free from false calls for over a period of over 3 months. This may have implications to any insurance cover. Response will only be reinstated to confirmed activations after the three month period.

Alarm Confirmation

There are three common types of confirmation; Sequential, Audio and Visual.

Sequential confirmation occurs when two detection devices detect movement within the same activation. This may typically be a external door opened, triggering a magnetic red contact, followed by a passive infra-red movement sensor detecting movement inside the building or could be two movement sensor either in adjacent rooms or the same room.

Audio confirmation works using microphone technology normally fitted inside or behind the detection devices. Audio confirm happens when, on activation of a single detection device, an operator at the ARC listens in and can hear suspicious noises.

Obliviously an audible confirmation system requires a silent alarm.

Visual confirmation works in the same way as audible, although CCTV cameras are fitted instead of microphones so that the ARC staff are able to see what has caused an activation. This can either be achieved by small lens integrated with the movement sensor or through an integrated CCTV system. This is normally the best form of confirmation but also often the most expensive.

Communicating with the Alarm Receiving Centre (Monitoring Station)

If an intruder is detected, the signal is sent from the alarm system using either a standard digital communicator, BT RedCare, BT RedCare GSM or CSL DualComm, via the phone line and/or a cellular network.

A standard digital communicator works by sending signals via the ordinary analogue telephone network, as does BT RedCare, however, with RedCare the ARC are alerted if the phone line fails, either through attack or a genuine line fault, as the line is constantly monitored.

BT RedCare GSM and CSL DualComm send alarm activations via the phone line and a cellular network to for increased security. These forms of signalling are ideal if your insurance company requires your alarm to transmit confirmation signals after a line cut.

Your home is your greatest asset. Why leave it vulnerable when it clearly pays to have your house protected by security professionals.

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