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Differences in alarm systems with/without police response

What are the differences between alarm systems with and without police response.

As far as the police are concerned there are also two types of alarms; Type A and Type B and there’s a big difference between them.  The table below identifies the differences.




Does the alarm system, its installation and maintenance have to meet a certain standard?

Yes, a type A alarm must be installed and maintained to the following standards: British Standard BS EN 50131 series or BS 4737 series (See Security standards Alarms for the series of documents)

Technically no, BUT if you’re using an alarm installer that is a member of  the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) then I strongly suggest that it is, in the event that you later require automatic attendance by the police

Who can install my alarm system?

The alarm has to be installed and maintained by a company that is a member of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB)

The police hold a list of recognised companies who are approved to install Type A alarms. However they do not provide this information to the public and will instead refer you to the inspection bodies above

If your installing company subsequently loses its police recognition their customers are given 3 months to make alternative arrangements

Anybody who is competent, including you, but I would recommend an alarm company that is a member of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB). 

Alarm companies that are members of these bodies may be advertising on this website.

The police do not recommend alarm companies to the public.

Who can monitor my alarm?

For police response your alarm must be monitored by an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) that is approved by the police.  The police normally require that the ARC  conforms to BS 5979: 2007 Category II , but certification to this standard is not always required under certain conditions

There are probably some Alarm Receiving Centres that will monitor your alarm, but they will only be able to contact you and your keyholders.

Police attendance

For Type A alarms there are two levels of response:

Level 1 – Immediate/urgent

The police do not guarantee to attend within a certain time period and attendance will be determined by the level of demand on police resources at the time and their other priorities

Level 3 – No response

(The ARC will instead only be able to inform your keyholders) – See below:

There has been a steady increase in the availability of DIY intruder alarms, personal attack alarms and CCTV systems, many of which have the ability to activate alarms and automatically send signals/messages to people’s landline and mobile telephones and computers.  As the majority will not meet European and British standards and will not be monitored by an approved Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) the police will not attend the venue unless: 

There is some additional indication from a person at the scene that a criminal offence is in progress, which indicates that a police response is required.  Any additional electronic confirmation of the alarm activation (required by Type A systems) will not achieve police response.

The police do not guarantee a response to Type B systems and should your neighbours hear your alarm activate they should pass on the information using the police telephone number or 999 as appropriate.  The police will only attend if they are satisfied that a criminal offence is in progress.

Automatic dialling equipment must not be programmed to call police telephone numbers and calls received from unapproved ARCs or from ARCs without a valid Unique Reference Number (URN) will not receive a police response.

What happens if I have false alarms?

If your alarm system generates 3 false calls in a rolling 12 month period you will lose your Level 1 response

Following 2 false calls in 12 months you will receive a letter from the police advising you of the situation and recommending urgent remedial action

After withdrawal of police response your system will continue to be monitored by the ARC and a period of 3 months free of false alarms will enable your system to once again receive a Level 1 response.  If the rate of false alarms is such that reinstatement of police response has been delayed for more than 6 months your URN will be deleted and you’ll have to reapply for a new one

You will drive your neighbours mad and, after too many false alarms, your neighbours won’t even bother to look in the direction of your house when it goes off – having reached the ‘cry wolf’ situation.

If the false alarms keep on happening you could find yourself in trouble with the local authority and could experience the embarrassment of having a noise abatement notice served on you.

If the system is causing false alarms do investigate the problem thoroughly with your alarm installer and if it’s a system that you installed, perhaps you should go for a professional installation next time.

Do I need to supply Keyholders?

Yes, the ARC must hold the details of 2 keyholders or the details of a central keyholding service.  Keyholders must be able to attend your home within 20 minutes at any time of the day and night, have access to the relevant parts of the dwelling, be able to operate the alarm and be contactable by phone.

The police service does not hold keys.

Yes, because I recommend you register your alarm system with the local authority and so you will obviously need somebody to be able to attend your home when you are away.

Local authorities operate a voluntary registration scheme for intruder alarms and a registration will cost you a few pounds.  


Purchase from £300 + annual maintenance charge and monitoring fee if you want the police to attend (Type A)

Rental from £99 installation + a monthly monitoring charge of £20+ 

Registering your alarm with the local authority will cost around £10 - £15

The police issue a unique reference number (URN) for each Type A alarm.  In 2011 the charge to you for this is £49.66 inc VAT

A monitored alarm requires two service visits by your alarm company per year

DIY Kit £120+++

Registering your alarm with the local authority will cost around £10 - £15

Last modified onWednesday, 17 December 2014 16:12

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