When is it time to upgrade an alarm system?

Most public, and many private, premises have an intruder alarm system installed, probably as a condition of their insurance policy.  More often than not however, alarm systems are many years old, don’t incorporate latest technology and have not been maintained properly.  In other words, they don’t fully meet users’ needs and this tends to become apparent only when there’s an incident.

Is your alarm system still effective?  Is the alarm’s level of detection adequate for the way in which the building is now being used?  For example, ten years ago a school would not have had the quantity of computers and other expensive equipment that are commonplace in most classrooms today.  Who responds to an activation of the alarm system and does your alarm system still command a ‘level one’ priority Police response or a response at all?  And just who is responsible for setting and un-setting your alarm system and securing all doors and windows at night?

These are all questions you may not have considered, and what happens if a break-in goes undetected?  It’s not just the financial loss a break-in can cause, but also the disruption it causes, not forgetting the upset and worry.

It may be time to consider upgrading your intruder alarm system before it’s too late, or at the very least have it re-surveyed to see if it meets your current requirements and the risks posed by increased crime levels.


Is Your Intruder Alarm Up To The Job?

The number and the siting of the detection devices is key to any good intruder alarm system.  Most failures to detect a break-in are caused by the lack of devices located in the correct areas or the failure of a detection device due to obstruction e.g. by a bookshelf, cupboard, stock etc.  Perhaps it’s time to look at installing CCTV cameras in key areas, now that the cost of such technology has fallen dramatically in real terms.


New Alarm Technology

Advances in the technology used in detection devices have had to keep pace with the increased sophistication of criminals.  For example, over recent years there has been an increase of incidents where detection devices in public places have been discreetly sprayed during the day (whilst the alarm is unset) with an aerosol adhesive, rendering it useless, with the thieves returning when the premises are closed and breaking in can be done without the alarm activating. This is known as ‘masking’.  Detectors are now available that will detect many forms of masking, even if the system is not set.

Is the system being properly and regularly maintained? South Coast Alarms will be more than happy to visit your site to survey the premises to check there is an adequate level of protection to meet your changing needs. This should be checked out each time during a routine maintenance visit, just to ensure that a wall has not been built in front of a detection device, for example!


Police Response to Security Systems

In 2006 the vast majority of Police Authorities made their requirements more stringent for the management of monitored security systems due to the increasing number of false alarms and the growing demands on their services.

All new monitored intruder alarm systems and systems that have lost their Police response due to the number of false alarms (maximum of 3 false alarms in a 12 month period) must comply with the new rules.  Essentially, the Police can only be called to attend the premises if the signal from the alarm system is a ‘confirmed’ one.  This can be achieved by one of three ways: visual – via remote monitored CCTV; audible – via a device that listens in to the premises on the activation of the intruder alarm; or the most common, by using Sequential Confirmation where two or more separate detection devices must be activated to generate a confirmed signal.  If only one device is activated then just the key holder is informed.

The new rules and these types of systems, have helped reduce the amount of false calls that Police resources have to deal with each year.  But more importantly, for the owners of premises, this has helped maintain their Police response by filtering false alarms that would have previously been passed to the Police.  But the converse is also true: if you have too many false alarms it’s quite likely the Police may not even attend your premises for hours – if at all – if they have too many other priorities.

It’s the duty of an alarm company to manage the recording of alarm activations and ensure the Police rules are being complied with, but it is your duty to ensure activations are kept to a minimum by proper staff training, formal entrance and exit routines, and so on.


Choosing an intruder Alarm Company

Choosing the right security alarm company can be difficult but your local Police or your insurance company will make recommendations if you ask them.  More often than not they will insist on a NSI Gold or SSAIB accredited alarm company, like South Coast Alarms.  So why is it better to use an SSAIB company?  They must:-

  • Have all their staff thoroughly security vetted
  • Be rigorously inspected by SSAIB every nine months to ensure they maintain prescribed standards in terms of the quality of their installation and maintenance work as well as their business processes
  • Be properly insured
  • Operate a 24 hour call-out service (and respond within 4 hours)
  • Complete a thorough security survey of your premises before recommending or quoting for work
  • Install reliable, up-to-date equipment
  • Issue you with a Certificate of Compliance covering your alarm system
  • Meet the relevant British and European standards
  • Operate to the highest level of business excellence through quality management
  • Meet the requirements of the Police, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and association of British Insurers (ABI)

With the recent changes in Police regulations and the new European standards and the improvements in technology, now might be the time to consider reviewing your burglar alarm system.

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