Police response alarms – what are they and are they worth it?

For a police response alarm you pay a premium subscription, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting and whether it’s worth it.

What we mean by ‘police response’

The first thing to know is that a police response alarm is not directly connected to the police. Instead, when triggered the alarm notifies an alarm receiving centre (ARC). Security personnel at the ARC will then respond, requesting the police if necessary and notifying the property owner and/or nominated key holders.

These centres run 24/7 and are crucial for reducing unnecessary police callouts to false alarms. If the police repeatedly show up at your home because of a nosy cat setting off a sensor then they may downgrade the responsiveness to your property – luckily for you though, our intruder alarm at Boundary is pet friendly and extremely reliable.

When is an alarm considered ‘confirmed’?

The ARC has a direct line to the police, and will request a response only if the alarm is confirmed by two sensors in the home.

When only one sensor is triggered, it’s more likely to be an accident- a false alarm – so the ARC will notify the homeowner and/or nominated keyholder, but not the police.

Should two sensors be triggered within a certain amount of time then this is confirms the break-in and the ARC will request a level 1 immediate response from the police.

Different interpretations of police response

The term ‘police response’ is used differently by different alarm system brands. A few provide a police response only if a burglary is visually confirmed. This means a camera needs to capture the thief in the act. If the intruder disables the camera or there is uncertainty over the camera footage, then only a guard will be sent out, after several hours. Moreover, sending out a guard usually incurs a fee – definitely check this!

The alarm receiving centre of a Grade 2 alarm (like Boundary’s) will have a direct line to the police. ARCs of non-graded alarms will call 999 to reach the police via an operator, which takes significantly longer, and is less likely to receive a police response.

Break-in scenario

To illustrate what happens when a burglar breaks into a home with a police response alarm, here’s our very own fictional scenario. Picture the scene …

  1. John is on holiday in New York. It’s 11pm. He’s fast asleep. Back at his home in Manchester, it’s 4am and burglars have targeted his home, breaking down the front door to get in.
  2. The contact sensor on the front door immediately detects the intrusion. The alarm goes off and the Philips Hue lights start flashing red. The ARC checks the status of John’s home and sees that two sensors have been triggered – the contact sensor and a motion sensor. The ARC now has confirmation of the burglary and calls the police control room via a direct line, requesting a level 1 immediate response.
  3. Because John is out of the country, the ARC notifies the nominated keyholder, John’s neighbour.
  4. The thieves have entered the home, and are frantically looking for valuables to steal. The flashing red lights hamper their vision while the siren wakes up the neighbours.
  5. As the ARC has requested a level 1 response, the police swiftly get to the scene and enter the home.
  6. The police arrest the burglars, who didn’t expect the officers to arrive so quickly. The average burglary takes 8 – 12 minutes.
  7. John’s neighbour then contacts John, informing him of the events that have unfolded overnight. With his home now safe and very little he can do from New York, John’s neighbour insists he continues to enjoy the rest of his holiday.

So what are the key benefits of police-response systems?

Quick response

The effectiveness of an unmonitored alarm depends entirely on being heard and acted upon by a neighbour or passer-by. A police-response system guarantees your alarm will never be ignored and the ARC can call the police as soon as two sensors have been triggered.

Deterrent

Police-response systems, such as ours at Boundary, have an outdoor siren that must be professionally installed onto the exterior of your property. When a burglar sees a the outdoor siren box, and knows it may offer a police response, they won’t even consider breaking-in.

Peace of mind

The ARC controllers monitor your home 24/7 – quite a comfort if you’re on holiday or just a particularly sound sleeper!

To get a police response, an alarm must be professionally installed

To get a level 1 police response, the alarm must be professionally installed by an NSI or SSAIB certified installer. This is to reduce false alarms and prevent wasting police time. With each install, engineers have to evaluate where best to place sensors to catch burglars but also ensure they aren’t too easily activated. Even the heat from a radiator can trigger a sensor!