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ACPO Doubt

by msecadm4921

Consultant Paul Elliott doubts the relevance of ACPO policy on intruder alarms, because he sees evidence of corporate clients making their own arrangements on alarm response, having lost confidence in the police.

He says: ‘The police basically are not responding very well to routine calls anyway. In other words, there is a lack of confidence inthe police ability – we won’t talk abour their competence – given their resources and all the calls on their resources. There is an extreme lack of confidence in the police response being realistic, in terms of sorting the problem very well. So what is the effect of that’ Well, the effect that I am seeing is people are saying ‘in that case we have got to have our own arrangements for responding to alarms and in some cases I am seeing a more advanced commercial response than I was 12, 24 months ago.’ That is, he is seeing guarding companies responding more and more to alarms with key-holders, or in lieu of key-holders, on behalf of organisations.
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As a knock-on effect, Paul asks: in these circumstances, why bother about ACPO policy, which is not law’ He speaks of some private organisations’ central control rooms, dealing with their own properties’ alarms, and realising that they need to be NSI-approved and meeting the British Standard for alarm receiving centres, BS 5979, to be issued a Unique Reference Number (URN) by police. Rather than achieve those standards, they are choosing to make 999 calls to police in an emergency.
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Then there are the insurers, who are drivers of any standards. Paul describes the insurance requirements in respect of property protection for an unspecified client in a recent review. Normally, insurers state that buildings should have intruder alarms, and add clauses about installation standards and proper maintenance and monitoring contracts. This client, having seen premiums increase, has chosen to have insurance cover that excludes theft. Hence the insurance company says that the client does not have to comply with the usual intruder alarm clauses.
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Paul Elliott sees these developments as eroding clients’ perception of a need for intruder alarms compliance – ‘because clients at the end of the day are saying they only have an intruder alarm because they want a fast response from an activation, primarily from the police, in support of a key-holder’. But such a response is not happening, and nor are police accountable in a commercial contract or otherwise. (Consider this ACPO phrase from the time of the introduction of the current alarms response policy: ‘It should be noted that police response is ultimately determined by the nature of demand, priorities and resources which exist at the time a request for police response is received.’) Hence Paul continues to see a trend where intruder alarms are not set, even if an architect included intruder and fire alarms in a building for lease. In commercial sectors like call centres, retail and distribution, working increasingly on a 24-hour basis, the alarms are never needed or set; or, if workers are locked in, perhaps the alarms are set for the fire doors. If then an alarm is activated, someone inside the building can make the appropriate call – such as 999.
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Speaking more generally, Paul Elliott sees police moving away from routine incidents, and dealing with more serious issues, and telling the public and businesses to take care of themselves. Without wanting to sound dramatic, he sees there being more self-policing and vigilantism and, in some high-crime areas, payment of protection money where police are not present. paul does spend time looking at police statistics, for security reviews for corporate clients take in past events, the environment, and the performance of police. Police clear-up rates overall are about 25 per cent, but for theft and burglary can be much, much lower. Paul closes by asking: are the police responding to real alarms’ He suspects the answer is no.

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