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Once you are issued with a Police URN it is useful for you to have an understanding as to what to expect from the Police and how to maintain your alarm correctly in order to avoid losing the Unique Reference Number response service supplied by your relevant police authority.

What level of Police response can I expect to my security system?

As the user of a monitored security system, you have taken an important step in securing the protection of your premises against criminal attack.

Provided you ensure your system does not generate unacceptable levels of false calls and that police resources are available, you will receive an immediate response to your alarm calls from your system 24 hours a day, every day.

What is a genuine alarm activation?

The following are examples of genuine alarm activations:

  • An intruder alarm activation that has been cause by criminal activity or where criminal activity could reasonably be presumed or suspected.
  • A deliberately operated device or hold up alarm used to summon urgent police assistance when there is an immediate threat of attack, or injury from an assailant, who has entered a previously defined area, with the obvious intention of harming any person within that defined area.
  • Actions by the emergency services in the execution of their duty.

What is a false alarm?

An alarm will be considered to be false if there is no apparent damage or entry to the premises.

For example, alarms should not be activated by external sounds such as someone banging on a window, fireworks being set off in the vicinity, spiders, moths or Christmas decorations.

What happens if my system records unacceptable levels of false calls?

Intruder Alarms

After two false calls reported within a rolling twelve-month period, a warning letter will be issued to you and your alarm company. Where appropriate your alarm company should be instructed to carry out remedial action and/or operators retrained.

Regrettably, if a further false call is recorded within the same rolling twelve-month period, police response will normally be withdrawn.

Personal Attack/ Hold up Alarms

Reports of PA/Hold up alarms are taken extremely seriously and each is viewed as a potentially life threatening event. All calls of this nature are immediately allocated an ‘Emergency Response’ which inevitably poses an increased level of risk to both the officers responding to the call and to members of the public they may encounter en route.


After one false call has been reported a warning will be issued. If a further false call is reported within a rolling twelve-month period, users can expect police response to be withdrawn.

When response is withdrawn from a PA/Hold Up alarm the user will be expected to introduce additional measures to prevent further false calls being reported. This could mean the alarm receiving centre (ARC) must telephone the premises or that CCTV or microphones are installed to enable the ARC operators to confirm the need for a police response.


What do I need to do if Police response is withdrawn?

You should immediately contact your alarm company for advice and inform your insurers as the withdrawal of police response could affect your insurance cover. Response will not normally be restored to either an intruder or personal attack alarm until the system has been free from false calls for a period of ninety days.

Intruder alarms which are incapable of transmitting confirmed activations will need to be upgraded.

Additionally, where response is withdrawn from:

  • An Intruder Alarm:
    The system may need to be upgraded by the alarm company to ensure that it meets the current standard specified by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) Response to Security Systems Policy.

  • A PA/Hold Up Alarm:
    The equipment must comply with the Ten Point Plan for PA/Hold-up Alarms see appendix T of the NPCC response to Security Systems Policy.

If I am dissatisfied with the performance of my alarm company, what can I do?

Before any alarm company can install an alarm system for police response they must have been inspected and certified by either:

The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or The Security Systems Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).

Why do false alarms occur?

They are normally the result of bad design, poor installation, poor maintenance or user error. In order to ensure that your system retains police response follow the tips below:

  • Record all activations in your system log book, detailing the date, time and circuit or zone number. Also the action taken and by whom, to prevent recurrence or repeat call.
  • Ensure all individuals setting or un-setting the system, understand the process.
  • Keep the number of operators/key holders to a minimum. Where appropriate, allow them to select their own access numbers.
  • Ensure doors and windows are securely latched and in a good state of repair.
  • Ensure all perimeter doors, except for final exit doors are secured from the inside.
  • Keep the premises free from pets, insects, birds and vermin that might set of the alarm.
  • Inform the police of any subsequent sign of entry following an alarm call. Failure to do so could result in a genuine call being reported as false.
  • Ensure your alarm company is notified of any alterations to the building or contents that might affect the system.
  • Using electronic locks to lock users out of premises until alarms have been unset will reduce false alarms.

What do the Police require from key holders?

Before a remote signalling alarm system can be registered for a police response, the user of the system must provide the alarm receiving centre with the name and contact details of two key holders or a central key holding service. These details must be kept current and up to date.

Individuals named as key holders must:

  • Be trained to use the system and have access to all relevant parts of the premises
  • Be telephone subscribers
  • Have adequate means of transport to attend premises at all hours
  • Be able to attend within 20 minutes

Provided the police officers who have responded to the alarm are not directed to attend another incident, they will normally wait at the premises for 20 minutes to meet the key holder and to determine the cause of the alarm.

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