Police response to security systems

Many people outside of the security industry assume that any burglar alarm system can receive a bonafide Police Response as a result of there alarm being monitored but this is not the cast.  This page is designed to demistify and cut through the red tape.

What sort of police response should I expect?

ACPO (The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland), who specify police constabulary service guidelines, introduced a new policy on Police Response to Security Systems in 2000 which was last revised in April 2012 (download the ACPO Policy on Police Response to Security Systems (April 2012)), and since an Appendix F was added in January 2013 (ACPO Policy on Police Response to Security Systems – Appendix F (Jan 2013)).

These guidelines (the ACPO Policy) state that the police force will only attend monitored intruder alarms that ‘confirm’ alarm activations, whereas previously, the Police would respond at the first activation without requiring confirmation.

Normally, an alarm is considered ‘confirmed’ when a second detection device is activated during the same intrusion. This verifies that there is definite movement at the premises and therefore there is less chance of the activation being a false alarm.

When the first activation is received by the ARC, they are able to notify a keyholder but are unable to notify the police. When the second activation is received (‘confirmed’) by the ARC the police are notified. This is Police Response Level 1.

There are 3 levels of police response. These are summarised as follows:

Level 1

Immediate response

All monitored intruder alarm systems are assigned a Level 1 status when they are first installed – i.e. the police respond immediately when the ARC has confirmed an activation, as outlined above.

In the Original ACPO Policy if the police are called to respond to 2 false alarms within any 12 month period, the police response would fall to Level 2. Since the introduction of the ACPO 2004 Policy, this Level 2 response is no longer employed by nearly all police constabularies.  Instead, if the police are called to respond to 3 false alarms within any 12 month period, the police response will fall to Level 3 and police response would be withdrawn.

Level 2

Immediate police attendance, resources permitting

Although this is no longer employed by most constabularies, Level 2 police response was used to prioritise a police response over other incidents occurring at the same time.

A Level 2 police response means that the police will attend as soon as possible when the ARC alerts them, depending on the resources available to them at that time.

Systems could not regain Level 1 response until they have been free from false call-outs for more than 3 months. However, if the system generates a further false calls, in any 12 month period, the system will fall to Level 3 status and police response will be withdrawn.

Level 3

No police attendance unless offense witnessed

Police will not attend a Level 3 alarm unless a member of the public contacts them to say that they have witnessed a crime taking place. This may affect the insurance cover of the property. Systems will remain at Level 3 status until they have been free from false call-outs for a period of over 3 months and only after they have been upgraded to meet the latest police requirements.  Even after response has been re-instated, it will only be to confirmed activations.

Read the ACPO Response Levels


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