What Is Alarm Confirmation?
Alarm confirmation helps to reduce police resources being wasted on false alarms by requiring some method of verification that a criminal offence is taking place before the emergency services are notified.
The policy was initially introduced in 2000 by ACPO (The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and updated in 2012 with an additional appendix added in 2013. ACPO have since been replaced in 2015 by the NPCC (National Police Chiefs' Conce), however the guidelines which were set still remain in place and determine which systems qualify for police response.
Unconfirmed alarms will still activate an audible alarm to alert anyone nearby and depending on the system installed, inform a nominated keyholder, however emergency services will not be notified or attend automatically. This can be problematic for businesses situated within a rural area or a large industrial estate. If the keyholder is unable to attend immediately or there are no people within earshot of the alarm to contact the police, the offence will continue uninterrupted.
Alarm Confirmation Requirements
In order to qualify for automatic police response, businesses and homeowners must follow certain installation procedures and use a third party security service to monitor the property.
The system must first be given a police Unique Reference Number (URN), which is used by the local constabulary to identify and keep a record of the system. A number of prerequisites must be met in order to qualify and be issues an URN:
- Use type A alarm system
- System installed after june 22 and be in accordance with PD6662:2010 and BS 8243.
- Alarm must be installed by a qualified installer with UKAS accreditation.
- The Alarm Receiving Centre used to verify alarms must also be certified by a UKAS body.
Once an URN has been issued and the alarm has been installed by an accredited installer, professional security personnel at an Alarm Receiving Center will monitor alarm activity and take necessary action upon initial alarm activation. Once a security breach has been verified, a confirmation alarm will be sent to the local police constabulary to initiate a police response.
The method used to verify an alarm will depend on the sophistication of the security system installed, advanced systems may include a range of components to detect unwanted entry and confirm an alarm.
For systems which have been fitted with CCTV, live video can be accessed to check the premises for evidence that a break in has occurred. Advanced systems may have mortised cameras that will allow ARC operators to remotely control the camera angle and focus length, in order to thoroughly check the premises and prevent intruders hiding in blindspots.
Security systems with built-in-microphones can access live audio of the premises to determine whether unauthorised personnel have entered the premises. Many alarm systems also allow ARC operators to communicate with trespassers via a loudspeaker, warning intruders that they have been detected and that police are on the way, hopefully preventing any criminal behaviour from taking place.
Sequential confirmation can also be used by an alarm confirmation center to verify an alarm. This method relies on two separate intrusion sensors being activated within 30 minutes of each other.
There are a number of sensors which can be installed depending on the security requirements of the premises. The most common sensors are listed below:
- Magnetic contact switches: Placed on access points such as doors and windows, with one part placed on the frame and the second on the movable part. Activation occurs following a break in the signal when the two parts are separated.
- Motion Sensors: Activated by an infrared sensor which detects body heat or a microwave sensor which sends electromagnetic energy back and forth within the protected room and detects any breaks caused by an intruder's presence. Sensors can use either method or a combination of the two for improved reliability.
- Electric Eye: A beam of infrared light is transmitted between two devices, alarm activation occurs when the beam is broken. These devices are less reliable than motion sensors and are becoming less popular as a result.
- Pressure Sensors: Can detect additional pressure caused by the weight of a person or the removal of pressure to prevent theft of valuable objects.
A risk assessment and installation by an accredited professional such as Sygma will ensure the correct verification method has been chosen and that all components and devices have been fitted correctly for optimal performance and security.