Police sound death knell for nuisance alarms

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The Independent Online
The police are to launch a new policy to curb one of the banes of modern life - the nuisance burglar alarm.

In future, police will refuse to respond to some burglar alarms and give a lower priority to others. The new strategy, approved in principle by the Association of Chief Police Officers, comes in response to figures showing that more than 90 per cent of call-outs are false alarms.

The national scheme will grade households and businesses and put those who regularly make false alarms - seven or more a year - on a blacklist. Less serious cases - at least four false calls a year - will get a warning letter and are likely to get a slower service.

A victims' group yesterday condemned the initiative, decided at a confidential ACPO meeting yesterday, which they described as a blow against crime prevention. The police argue the "seven strikes and you're out" rule will provide a more efficient and effective system and help cut costs.

Manufacturers and owners of alarms that are blacklisted will have to prove their devices are reliable before the police put them back on their call-out list.

Although the policy has not yet been formally ratified the details will be announced by Richard Childs, Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex, and the chairman of the ACPO intruder alarms group, next month.

Mr Childs said: "At a time when the police service is attempting to improve its performance and provide real value for money, the waste of police time is unacceptable and unfair on those in genuine need."

Last year, 92 per cent of the 1.1 million call-outs to remote signal alarms - systems linked to police stations - were false; 6 per cent of households and 30 per cent of businesses have alarms.

Helen Reeves-Webb, marketing executive of the British Security Industry Association, welcomed the initiative and said it would encourage people to ensure alarms worked correctly.