A History of the UK intruder alarm industry 1852 – 2004

by Roy

Author: Mike Cahalane


Review date: 26/02/2024

No of pages: 40


Publisher URL:

Year of publication: 15/07/2015


Mike shares his life history and has allowed us to publish the whole book here.

By Mike Cahalane.


The aim of this paper is to set out a history of the security systems sector in the UK. It will concentrate particularly on the relationships between three parties: the intruder alarm companies, the insurance industry and the police. In doing so it will describe the strategies that have been adopted, the organisations set up and the procedures and standards developed to reduce false alarms. The contribution that intruder alarm systems have made to the socio-economic fabric of the United Kingdom in reducing burglary, insured and uninsured loss, and the fear of crime, together with the coincident reduction in the cost of policing, has been under-valued because false alarms have always hidden the benefits. In a necessarily brief description of the intruder alarm industry’s history many aspects will be left unexplored, and large areas of activity left out or given scant reference. Thus, it is with apologies to those companies, organisations and people, that are missed out or less than well observed, that this outline is presented with the hope that it will at least form a basis for more research and a useful reference for those interested in the security systems sector.

The early years 1852 – 1960 

Dogs, geese, locks, barriers, watchmen and guards were some of the earliest forms of security employed by man and have been used since the very earliest of civilisations. Whilst locks, bars, grilles, safes, and strongrooms can provide physical protection, they did not detect attacks or summon a response. When combined together as a system these methods provided deterrence, alerts and response. The first modern alarm system was invented in the early eighteenth century by an English promoter named Tildesley2. A set of chimes was mechanically linked to the door lock. The inventor’s advertisement proclaimed: “The bells associated with it are constructed in such a manner that no sooner is the skeleton key of an intruder applied to the lock than the [bells] begin to chime a plaintive air that inspires such sentiment in the minds of the housebreaker that will doubtlessly prompt him to take precipitous flight.” The simplicity of the system demonstrates the fundamentals of this basic intruder alarm system, detection, processing and the signalling of an attack by potential intruders – and the system doesn’t need to eat or sleep. There is the further immeasurable benefit – the deterrent. Figure 1 illustrates how an effective security system relies on the integration of individual ‘system’ elements operating successfully together to provide detection, processing and response. The defeat of any of these disables the entire system – a disabled system ensures no deterrence and no response. The detection principle. As society developed and became wealthier new technology was required that overcame the limitations of mechanical devices. The early measures to create alarms had their benefits, however none provided the level of security offered by the automatic burglar alarm system, powered by a stream of electrons that flowed as fast as light and carried intelligent messages, that could be processed and acted on according to required levels of response. Electricity allowed the development of telegraphy, which provided the platform for advances towards specially designed components that could be used in burglar alarm systems:

A burglar alarm, or intruder alarm as it is more properly called…. is not intended as a means of preventing a criminal from forcibly entering premises. It is designed to provide a warning at the earliest possible moment, of entry, or attempted entry, by a criminal into the protected premises” 

Claims for the origin of the first electrical burglar alarm system are many but it is likely that the earliest was a design by Augustus Pope who filed a U.S. patent on the 27 October 18524 for an “improvement in electro-magnetic alarms”…that gave “an alarm in case of burglarious …attempts to enter” a building through a door or a window. A significant advance by Pope was his design for an electric bell that replaced earlier clockwork models incorporated in the earlier mechanical linkage systems. Whilst Pope may be credited with the first patent it relied on Sir Charles Wheatstone’s5 invention of the first electromagnetic relay, acting as a simple processor sitting between a detection device and the warning provided by the electric bell, see Figure1. Intruder alarm systems now include a range of complex electronic security devices designed to detect arson, burglary, improper access, and covert or overt surveillance. These systems can summon emergency response by signalling remote monitoring centres with a range of electronic messages utilising a variety of transmission systems. The development of the security systems industry in the UK can be traced back to the need to enhance the protection of business premises in the City of London where insurers were experiencing increasing losses through burglary. Virtually all the major insurers had head offices in the City of London and their losses from burglary of business premises they insured in the City were significant, growing, and increasingly difficult to underwrite. The First World War had taught large numbers of men about the use of explosives. Unfortunately some applied these skills to burglary and safe blowing. 2 © Mike Cahalane Thomas Gunn Limited, a firm of electrical contractors founded 1907, is believed to be the oldest burglar alarm company in the UK. Their burglar alarms used telegraph wire, copper strips formed as contacts, telegraph relays and solenoid bells, assembled on site as a tailor made system designed for the specific risk and premises. Insurers promoted these systems for high value theft-attractive risks and they proved successful in reducing claims. Thus, the insurance industry became a prime mover in the growth of the security systems industry.

By 1921 the intruder alarm business of Thomas Gunn was so successful they decided to incorporate their business into a new company, the Rely-a-Bell Burglar and Fire Alarm Company Limited. The objects for which the company was established are described thus in the original Memorandum of Association:

(a) To execute with or without modification and carry into effect an agreement with Thomas Gunn Limited and Henry John Tibbles for the purchase of certain Patents for Burglar and Fire Alarms in the terms of the draft agreement a copy whereof has for the purpose of identification been initialed [sic] by Frank Victor Gunn a proposed director of the Company. 

(b) To manufacture construct and fit Burglar and Fire Alarms. (c) To manufacture purchase sell and fit locks padlocks and other locking devices and to manufacture and sell electric radiators.”

The business interests of Rely-a-Bell and insurers fitted closely those of the City of London police whose principle objectives were set out by Richard Mayne in 1829:

“The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.”

With these words Richard Mayne also set the measure upon which security systems should be judged. The key ‘detection principle’ sectors Represents those key sectors whose interests, whilst separately managed, have a common aim, the detection of burglary, the prevention of loss and the arrest and prosecution of burglars, all of which amplifies the underlying deterrent effect. The peace of mind gained by this virtuous detection principle has been an incalculable added value for homeowners and businesses. Naturally, the triumvirate of interests is interdependent; the security offered by intruder alarms the peace of mind and the deterrent effect and can only be sustained if all are effective in the services they provide.

The Insurers 

Although intruder alarms were successful in reducing risk and controlling loss they displaced burglary to premises that had no such protection. This led to increasing calls on police services and the City of London police were eventually compelled to set up the first specialist department offering advice on burglary prevention (effectively the first police ‘crime prevention department’) in 1952. Insurers also offered advice on loss control through specialist burglary insurance surveyors. In 1953, following the formation of the Advanced Study Group of the Insurance Institute of London, some 40 insurance companies attended a meeting where it was resolved that the Association of Burglary Insurance Surveyors (ABIS) be founded under the chairmanship of Stan Price of the British Oak insurance company. The vice-chairman was Don Bûgg of the Northern & Employers, the secretary was Mr. F.H. Buggelyn of the National Employers Mutual and the treasurer was Len Brinkworth of the Legal & General. ABIS had 64 members by the end of 1953. Initially the insurance companies were not supportive of ABIS but came around when they realised how beneficial their role was. The value of ABIS was enhanced by their internal technical reports on security services that their specialist committees produced, which were relied on by burglary insurance surveyors throughout the UK. Stan Price was chairman of ABIS for the first several years and subsequently the position became subject to a three-year term: ABIS Chairmen 1953 – 2005

1953 – 1966 Stan Price – British Oak

1966 –1969 Don Bûgg – Northern & Employers

1969 – 1972 Ken Bolton – National Employers Mutual

1972 – 1975 Mike Hunt – Royal

1975 – 1978 Roland Twist – Guardian Royal Exchange

1978 – 1981 Dave Potter – Legal & General 1981 –

1984 Ken Bolton – National Employers Mutual

1984 – 1987 Dave Dabbs – Legal & General

1987 – 1990 Mike Buckley – Willis Faber

1990 – 1993 Roy Bottomley – Sun Alliance

1993 – 1996 Barry Faiers – Cornhill

1996 –1999 Ian Wainwright – Ecclesiastical

1999 – 2002 Geoff Clark – Norwich Union

2003 – 2005 Andrew Templeton – HSBC

Between 1962 and 1972 (when – BS4737: 1971 Intruder alarm systems in buildings – was published by the British Standards Institution), insurers relied on the authoritative ‘Burglary Protection and Insurance Surveys’ published by Don Bûgg6, as a guide for both physical and electrical protection. The insurers’ had decided that physical protection alone couldn’t be relied on to halt or significantly reduce the trend in insured losses:

 “In general terms, there are six reasons for the installation of a burglar alarm: 1. Voluntarily by the owner. In some trades the stock cannot be replaced or would take so long to replace that there would be extensive loss of goodwill. For his own security, therefore, the owner must have the best protection. 

2. By reason of the situation of the premises. If the burglar can work hidden from view or out of earshot, he can take longer at his work, use more equipment and more force. If the premises are isolated, he can in addition make a considerable amount of noise without fear of detection. 

3. Where the perimeter walls of the risk are accessible from adjacent non-hazardous risks, e.g. a parade of shops having a tobacconist shop with a butcher on one side and green-grocer on the other and the party walls between the shops are not load bearing or consist of, say, 9 in. or 4½in. brick, breeze block or lath and plaster. 

4. Where the premises are such that physical protection is not practicable, e.g. a lantern light of such a size that the roof could not support the weight of an iron grille or the windows are so large and so numerous that it is cheaper to install a burglar alarm than physical protection. 

5. Poor physical construction of the premises. 

6. To comply with a condition imposed by the insurers, the present trend is for extra-hazardous and many hazardous risks to be considered uninsurable without burglar alarm protection.

” Burglar alarms are relatively expensive and it is incumbent on the surveyor to keep this expense to a minimum, and this can often be achieved by restricting the burglar alarm to the portion of the premises in which the attractive stock is kept. On occasions it is necessary to suggest re-allocation of the use of the premises or the erection of partitions to create enclosed portions. If this cannot be effected, then the alarm must be extended to the whole premises.” 

This list of criteria, based as it was on the loss experience of burglary insurance surveyors, ensured an escalating range of insured commercial and residential premises would become subject to an insistence on the installation of an intruder alarm system as a condition of insurance. Bûgg spelled out how this was managed over the ensuing period 1962-1972:

There is no official insurance organisation for the approval of burglar alarm companies. It is the practice of individual insurers or surveyors to prepare for their own use private and confidential lists of burglar alarm companies whose installations meet with their requirements, and within the confines of the insurer’s office, the companies whose names appear on this list are known as ” Approved Burglar Alarm Companies “.

For intruder alarm companies established prior to the 60’s this confidential ‘approval’ ensured they received the greatest share of business dispensed through the insurers accident office. For new companies seeking to establish themselves this ‘approved’ list meant a substantial block to business. Even so for the more entrepreneurial amongst them there was the opportunity to break through and take advantage of this expanding market:

As Bûgg noted:

“It does not follow that an installation by an approved firm should be accepted without question. In many cases the proposer decides on the extent of the alarm, using cost rather than security as the basis of the specification. Although the alarm companies advise their clients to obtain the approval of their insurance companies, they cannot force this point, as apart from the wishes of the client there is always the possibility that the risk is not insured. Too many burglaries in premises protected by an alarm is obviously detrimental to the good name of the alarm company and they will insist on a minimum standard sufficient to safeguard their name. It is, therefore, necessary for the surveyor to check the whole installation (or proposed installation) to see if it gives adequate security according to the standards required.”

Thus issues of competence, cost and quality became the underlying issues for the ‘approved’ intruder alarm companies and the insurers that supported them. If there was no independent arbiter of standards how could these issued be resolved? The insurers dealt with this issue by designing the required intruder alarm system and issuing a written specification to the insured so they could pass this on to their insurers select list of installers.

The Installers 

Rely-a-Bell and their other competitor Burgot Alarms Limited (a subsidiary of Radio Rentals) had the business very much to themselves until 1937 when two companies, the Auto-Call Company and the Ideal Fire and Burglary Protection Company, commenced trading. After a significant rise in burglary after the ending of the Second World War several more intruder alarm companies, encouraged by insurers, were established in London. Three of these London companies were the Auto-Call Company, the Sentinel Company and Clarion Equipment. Although Rely-a-Bell was the market leader until the 1960’s it was The Auto-Call Company that galvanised the rapid development of the intruder alarm industry. Auto-Call’s major shareholder was Mr William McPhail (better known as Willie McPhail). It is said that he joined Auto-Call directly from one of the Scottish Co-operative Societies and shortly afterwards acquired control of the company. Willie McPhail was innovative and acquisitive; he carried through a number of ‘firsts’ in the intruder alarm business:

 The reverse take-over.

 Capitalisation of rented equipment.

 Deferred taxation.

 Horizontal and vertical integration through acquisition

Soon after he acquired Automatic Fire Alarms, a company quoted on the London Stock Exchange and reversed his own company Auto-Call into it. This gave him ready access to the stock market cash through the offer of shares in his his established publicly quoted company. He then set out on the acquisition trail and within a few short years had built a business that was the main competitor of Rely-a-Bell and Burgot. In 1960 Burgot acquired Rely-a-Bell and was in turn acquired by Chubb and Son’s Lock and Safe Company Limited in 1962. Chubb formed Chubb Alarms in 1968. Figure 3 shows the London companies acquired and absorbed into Associated Fire Alarms by Willie McPhail by 1960, and those company owners and personalities who were associated with the subsequent developments in the industry. AFA offered everything in security – locks, safes, grilles, intruder and fire alarms – throughout the UK, and through subsidiary companies in Africa, Australia and Asia. They were also first into the home alarm market in 1963 with a specialised direct sales team selling in the home with demonstration kits and a 35mm projector showing colour slides of finished systems. Through its acquisitions AFA was able to offer the market a wide variety of security systems equipment and methods. Sentinel used twin beam modulated rays and ultrasonic detectors. Autocall had the ‘G Type’ control equipment with an ‘anti-false alarm’ relay circuit. The G Type became the control equipment platform for all the acquisitions. An AFA service engineer had to be able to deal with a variety of different electrical detection devices, 11 different control panels and 6 different autodiallers. Autodiallers automatically dialled the police in the event of an incident and transmitted a pre-recorded message to the police announcing the burglary giving the location of the premises..

The early years 1907 – 1960

Ideal Alarms 1937 Joe Eales, Roger Jennings, Ron Leather,

Associated Fire Alarms 1960 William McPhail,

Auto-Call Alarms 1937 Peter Eyre, William McPhail, Peter Towle,

Sentinel Company 1945 Ted Gant, David McSorley Les Owen

Clarion Alarms 1946 Charlie Brock, Issy Kurger, Alf Robjant, Harry Saunders,

Burgot Alarms 1932R (Ron) Harris Jonny Johnson Dennis Smith Dan Maloney

Thomas Gunn Limited 1907 Electrical Contractors

City of London Frank Gunn, Malcolm Gunn& Henry Tibbles

The Rely-a-Bell Burglar and Fire Alarm Company 1921 Frank Gunn, Malcolm Gunn & Henry Tibbles (acquired by Burgot Alarmsin 1962)

Chubb Alarms 1968 Alex Booker David Dring Stuart McAinsh

Univalve 1954 Frank Mills

The early systems consisted of large detection sections of copper wiring which ran over the surfaces of doors, walls, and through tubes on windows. Although rather basic, there were some subtle differences in the applied technique reflecting the workmanship of the installing engineers concerned – indeed one could often recognise who had actually installed the system from the way it had been fitted. Because of the ability to capitalise rented equipment and defer taxation on derived profits the AFA balance sheet looked very cash rich and attracted an aggressive market following. The acquisition of Clarion for a reputed £400,000 (some £4m in today’s money), a deal struck over lunch is indicative of the financial support Willie McPhail obtained from the Stock Market. However there were signs that some of the company’s acquisitions were bought at too high a price and AFA’s forecast of profits, in the region of £374k for 1964, were downgraded a week later to £21k, and shortly after to a loss of (- £805k). From that point it all got much worse as noted in the financial columns of the day:

18 Dec 1964 – Profits from Australian subsidiary will not materialise. Mr William McPhail, the chairman of AFA, claimed that the life of the rented equipment greatly exceeded the writing down period.

25 May 1965 – AFA shares fell further from 12/- to 5/6. Eric Morland, the managing director for 3 years, resigned from the board with a £20,000 golden handshake – (about £180,000 in today’s money).

26 May 1965 – Chubb were tipped to buy a 51% stake in AFA for £2¼M. – Mr William McPhail announces that the forecast £ 374K profit for 1964 has all but disappeared to a ‘break-even’ point. The blame is placed on AFA’s accounting procedures, which are being revised and until then it will be impossible to produce reliable figures.

11 Jun 1965 – Chubb not going ahead with share purchase. 12 Jun 1965 – Electric Protection Services (ADT) tipped as buyer.

15 Jun 1965 – ADT not interested. Mr. L.J. O’Brien, the company’s president, said that his recent visit to London had probably given cause to the rumour. 19 Jun 1965 – The Board of Trade asked to investigate the AFA share collapse. Mr William McPhail say’s “So far as I am concerned I welcome an enquiry”. 26 Jun 1965 – Walter Kidde’s talks with AFA suspended. The Stock Exchange suspends dealings in AFA shares at 2/4½ (12p).

30 Jul 1965 – Westminster and Barclays banks put the ‘industrial consultant’. Mr Ian Morrow on the board of AFA. 10 Aug 1965 – A loss for 1964 of £865K is reported to financial press. Mr McPhail steps down and Mr Ian Morrow becomes chairman of AFA.

1 Sep 1965 – Mr McPhail discloses that he had sold 1,358,613 shares prior to December 1964 and prior to the disclosure of the first profit warning. Prior to these sales he had been the largest shareholder. (Say, £1.8m or £14m at today’s prices) 29 Oct 1965 – Mr McPhail resigns from the board of AFA.

12 Nov 1965 – Mr Peter Towle is appointed managing director and Mr Ted Gant is appointed a director of AFA.

Source: The Times

In December of 1964 AFA shares fell from a high of 29/- to 12/- (£12 down to £5 in today’s money), and then on down to 2/6. Willie McPhail resigned from the Board of AFA in October 1965. Following abortive offers to buy the company from companies such as Chubb and ADT Mr Ian Morrow, a business consultant, was installed on the AFA Board by the banks, and is credited with turning the company round. The reality of that claim is radically undermined when the audited accounts for the period 1984-1986 is more closely examined.

PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNTS 1964 – 1967 Published Accounts 1964 Amended Accounts 1964 AFA accounts for 1965 AFA accounts for 1966

REVENUE Installation 2,218,000 2,006,000 2,341, 562 2,514,

Service & Rental 795,000 795,000 868,033 929,872 Assoc. Companies 133,850 180,947

TOTAL REVENUE3,013,000 2,801,000 3,343,445 3,625,720

DIRECT COSTS  Materials 576,680 661,980 1,006,872 259,035 Tfr

Capitalisation (1,113,000) (397,500) (536,710) (283,107)

Depreciation 153,594 (382,726) 198,750 463,230 476,682 946,844 219,417 195,345

GROSS PROFIT3,395,726 2,337,770 2,396,601 3,430,375

OVERHEADS & WAGESDirect & Indirect Wages 1,617,000 1,617,000 1,617,000 1,675,000

Directors Remuneration176,000 196,000 205,000 210,000

Administration/Selling 937,000 937,000 948,000 948,000

Depreciation160,000 160,000 165,000 165,000

Disposal of Assets 13,000 18,000 0 0

Accrued Expenses119,000 3,022,000 215,000 3,143,000 164,266 3,099,266 158,559 3,156,559

NET PROFIT/(LOSS) 373,726 (805,230) (702,665) 273,816

One of the affects of the AFA ‘troubles’ was that a number of people left AFA and formed their own businesses, encouraged by insurers who must have been somewhat shaken

FA’s ‘South Sea Bubble’ and softened their reluctance to accept new intruder alarm A companies.

Intruder alarm systems in the 50s and 60’s 

The early installations of intruder alarm systems were constructed on site and relied on acquired ‘craft’ skills. As well as being a capable installer of burglar alarm wiring, the best engineers had to be a ‘jack of all trades’, carpenter, joiner, carpet layer etc., Installations were technically very simple and the ‘lo w damage, intermittent contacts and cables, all of which, more often than not, detected system failures resulting in false alarms. Extensive cabling lining walls, ceilings, and sometimes floors was all very well in premises like warehouses and back-street workshops. On the other hand, most of the homes protected at that time were usually very expensive and finely decorated. Shops often incorporated living accommodation and commercial premises were many times fitted out expensively if not opulently. Nevertheless, the extensive use of detection wiring ignored considerations of décor for the security it offered the premises. By the end of the 60’s it was accepted that there was a need for improved installation standards and detection technology, largely because it was believed that poor installation workmanship lay behind the increasing numbers of false alarms. The larger ‘approved’ intruder alarm company fr saw ‘standards’ as a way of ensuring competition would ‘level the playing field’, i.e., high costs on small companies would soften competition. In Institute to agree that work be started on a British Standard for intruder alarm systems. Three years later the British Security Member Company:

The BSIA Companies & Sector Alarm Systems

Alarm Systems

Associated Fire Alarms Limited

Brock’s Alarms Limited

Chubb Alarms Limited

Electric Protection Services Limited

The Gardner Security Co. Limited

Granley Products Limited

Lander Equipment Company

Modern Automatic Alarms ltd

Securitas Alarms Limited

Shorrock Security System

Guarding and Transport

Factory guards R.J.

Pickford Limited

Securicor Limited

Security Express Limited

Lock & Safes

Chubb & Sons Lock and Safe Co Limited

Ratner Safe Company Limited 11


British Lock Manufactures association

British Fire Protection Systems Association

Association Ltd Hon.

Secretary: Peter Hamilton (Asst. to the Joint MD Chubb & Son Ltd) Hon.

Treasurer: John Shepherd-Barron er ome nine years in preparation the first draft of  comment in 1971.

The organisations involved with d 4 737: 1971 were:

 Associated Burglar Alarm

 Association of

 British Insurance Association

 British Security Industry Association

 City of London Police

 Home Office

 Incorporated Association of Arch

 L Metropolitan Police, Borough and County Police Forces

* The Independent Burglar Alarm Association (TIBAA) Prior to the publication of BS 4737 the BSIA had announced in July 1970 that they would form their own intruder alarm inspectorate, the National Supervisory Council for IntrAlarms (NSCIA). In May 1972 17 non-BSIA intruder al le re Alarm Association (TIB re A.C. Alarm Equipme Alert Security Ariel Burglary & Fire Protection Co. Ltd A.S.P. Alarms Audio Alarms Ltd Blue Circle (Intruder Protectio Brocks Alarms Ltd Brun Alarms Ltd C.Q. Alarms Ltd Clyde Burglar Alarm Co. Ltd Combat Alar Delta Security Ltd Dynalarm Ltd Ecolarm Excelsior Security Services Gem Alarms Ltd  stone & Co. Ltd) r) Ltd an Security Ltd Serian Paging Alarms Ltd Shield Protection Ltd Systems Solar Security Services Ltd d curity Group Ltd Spectre larm Co. (Bristol) o. (Swindon) V & A. Security Systems Wales & West Midlands Security Ltd Wright Alarms Y.C. Security Alarms Ltd TIB cil: Guard Alarm (Kyna Guardian Electronics Systems Gwenic Ltd Hornet Alarms (Mancheste J. Hoyle & Sons Maxim Alarms Ltd Meggitt Marsh & Co. Ltd Owl Alarm & Electrical Co. Ltd Panda Alarms Ltd Richard Norm Safeway Security Ltd Shipton Security Southward Burglar & Fire Alarms LtS.O.S. Se Security Ltd Stand-Fast Burglar A Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (East Anglia) Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (South London Counties) Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (South Midlands) Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm C AA Coun Chairman Ron Leather Ariel Burglary & Fire Protection Duncan HarpHornet Alarms (Manchester) Ltd. Don Simpson Spectre Security Ltd. Mike CahalaneShield Protection Ltd. Derek Roberts Standfast (Sunningdale) Ltd. John Freemen S.O.S. Security Group Ltd. Although BS 4737 was published in 1971 the BSIA a se BSIA and TIBAA refused to allow inspections to go ahead until the BS 4737 was amended. Drafts of the proposed amendments to the standard were circulated and accepted in May 1972although the publication still retained the 1971date. T ABI) had decided they would only become involved with the NSCIA if they were invited tojoin the NSCIA NIB on equal terms with the BSIA. TIBAA had a meeting with the BIA anthe BSIA and an agreement to change the constitution of the NSCIA NIB was resolved8. A m 13 © Mike Cahalane

The NSCIA NIB – 1972

The National Inspection Board and Directors of the NSCIA

Chairman – Peter Towle, Managing Director, AFA, appointed by the BSIA

Vice-Chairman – Peter Hool, Asst.General Manager,General Accident, appointed by the BIA

Director General – Rear Admiral D.N. Callaghan C.B., appointed by the NIB

Ken Banks, Director, Chubb Alarms, appointed by the BSIA

Pat Bartrum, Asst. General Manager, Sun Alliance & London, appointed by the BIA

Mike Cahalane, Managing Director, Shield Protection, appointed by the Non-BSIA installers

Peter Eyre, Managing Director, Abel Alarm Company, appointed by the BSIA

Ted Gant, Managing Director, Brocks Alarms, appointed by the BSIA

Mike Hunt, Deputy Chief Burglary Surveyor, Royal Insurance, appointed by the BIA

Ron Leather, Managing Director, Ariel Alarms, appointed by the Non-BSIA installers

David Levy, Managing Director, Granley Products, appointed by the BSIA

Wing Commander J. Stewart DFC, Managing Director EPS, appointed by the BSIA

Ordinary members – Professional Associations

S.L.M. Barlow, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

E.A. Broomfield, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

D.R. Fryer, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

G.F. Gainsborough, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

P.K. Harison, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

J. Tye, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

The NSCIA NIB Technical Committee

Chairman – Director General – Rear Admiral D.N. Callaghan C.B., appointed by the NIB

Ken Banks, appointed by the BSIA S.L.M. Barlow, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

E.A. Broomfield, appointed by Non-BSIA & Non-BIA bodies

Mike Cahalane, appointed by the Non-BSIA enrolled installers

Mike Hunt, appointed by the BIA

As a regulatory body, the primary role of the NSCIA was to enrol and inspect credible intruder alarm companies and ensure that their intruder alarm systems conformed with BS 4737:1971. The NSCIA inspectorate was well received by the installers, insurers and the police, commencing operations in 1972 with an approved list of 82 installers that are shown below:

The NSCIA installers:

Abel Alarm Co. Ltd.1

A.C.E.S. Alarms Ltd.2

Advanced Burglar Alarm Co. Ltd.

AFA Minerva (EMI) Ltd. 1

Alert Security. 2

Alarm Systems (Sheffield) Ltd.

Ariel Burglary & Fire Protection Co. Ltd. 2

A.S.P. Alarms Company. 2

Associated Alarm Systems.

Audio Alarms Ltd. 2

Blue Circle (Intruder Protection) Co. Ltd. 2

Bobipoint T.V. Radio Co. Ltd.

Brocks Alarms Ltd. 1 & 2

Brun Alarms Ltd. 2

The Burglamaster Alarm Co. Ltd.

Burglarm Security Ltd.

Chubb Alarms Ltd. 1

Clyde Burglar Alarm Co. Ltd. 2

Combat Alarms Ltd. 2

Contact Alarms Ltd.

C.Q. Alarms Ltd. 2

Crawley Security Services Ltd.

Critec Ltd. Deter Alarm Co. Ltd.

Dynalarm Ltd. 2

Ecolarm. 2

Electric Protection Services. 1

Excelsior Security Services Ltd. 2

Gardener Security Co. Ltd. 1

Gem Alarms Ltd. 2

G.E.M. Security Alarms (Porthcawl).

Granley Products (London) Ltd. 1

Guard Alarms. 2

Guardian Electronic Systems. 2

Gwenic Ltd. 2

Hornet Alarms ( M/C) Ltd. 2

J. Hoyle & Sons. 2

Instant Aid Company Ltd.

Kynaston & Co. Ltd.

Lander Alarm Co. (Scotland) Ltd. 1

Leigh Security Ltd.

Major Security Systems.

Maxim Alarms Ltd. 2

Modern Automatic Alarms Ltd.1

Mono Security Alarms Ltd.

Richard Norman Security Ltd. 2

Panda Alarms Ltd. 2

Patrol Alarm Systems Ltd.

R.J. Pickford Ltd. Property Protection (Wales) Ltd.

R.J.M. Burglar Alarm Co. Safe Guard Alarms Ltd.

Safeway Security Ltd.

Scot Security Company

Securicor Ltd. 1

Securitas Alarm Ltd. 1

Security Alarms (Northern) Ltd.

Serian Paging Alarms Ltd. 2

Shield Protection Ltd. 2

Shipton Security Systems. 2

Shorrock Security Systems Ltd. 1

Significant Security Services.

Solar Security Services Ltd. 2

The S.O.S. Security Group Ltd. 2

South Coast Alarms. Spectre Security Ltd. 2

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. Ltd. 2

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (Bristol) Ltd. 2

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (Derby & Notts) Ltd.

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (East Anglia) Ltd. 2

Stand Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (East Kent) Ltd.

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (Nth London & Herts) Ltd.

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (South London Counties) Ltd. 2

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (South Midlands) Ltd. 2

Stand-Fast Burglar Alarm Co. (Swindon) Ltd. 2

Surrey Security Co. Ltd. Tecnilox Ltd.

V.& A. Security Systems. 2

Wales & West Midlands Security Ltd.

Westronics Ltd. Wright Alarms. 2

Y.C. Security Alarms Ltd. 2 1 12


The BSIA and TIBAA represented the substantial majority of intruder alarm companies formed over the period 1921-1972. Figure 4 shows the main London alarm companies and many of the owners and personalities of the period leading up to the creation of the NSCIA: Having gained representation on the NSCIA NIB, TIBAA subsequently merged with the BSIA. In turn the BSIA created a national regional structure reporting to the Alarm System Committee (ASC), and accepted into full BSIA membership those TIBAA members that had gained NSCIA recognition. The Chairmen of BSIA committees were elected for two-year periods: BSIA Alarm System Committee Chairmen 1973 – 1991

1973 – 1975 David Levy Granley Products

1975 – 1977 Charles Cole AFA

1977 – 1979 Jim McArthur Group 4

1979 – 1981 Ken Banks Chubb Alarms

1981 – 1983 Bob Tyley Chubb Alarms

1983 – 1985 Mike Cahalane Honeywell Shield Protection

1986 – 1987 Rufus Bond-Gunning Chubb Alarms

1987 – 1989 Mike Hawker Modern Alarms

1989 – 1991 Brian Cope Lander Alarms

By 1983 NSCIA had registered 140 approved installers but it was estimated that there were a further 1,800 unregulated installers. In the face of those numbers the regulated installers reasoned that insurers and the police were not supporting the NSCIA. The reality was that the police constabularies’ crime prevention officers were encouraging the growth of non-regulated installers and insurers were operating in a market that inevitably offered insurance in competitive situations and were hardly likely to decline perfectly good risks if the installer didn’t happen to be in the NSCIA. The intruder alarm market demonstrated substantial growth following the establishment of the NSCIA. This is demonstrated by the success of the first security industry exhibition and conference promoted by Victor Green, the owner and editor of the Security Surveyor magazine, which he founded in May 1970 as the house journal of ABIS. He subsequently founded the International Security Exhibition and Conference (ISEC) in 1972 and the International Fire & Security Exhibition and Conference (IFSEC) in 1974 as a biannual event in London. The growth of IFSEC (it went annual in 1980) is a good example of the dynamic demand for security products and services between 1974 – 1981:

International Fire & Security Exhibition and Conference (IFSEC)

1974 Royal Lancaster Hotel, London no of exhibitors 52

1976 Olympia, London exhibitors 145

1978 Olympia, London exhibitors 184

1980 Olympia, London exhibitors 360

1981 Olympia, London exhibitors 440

The NSCIA, national and London and alarm companies 1921 – 1972 Burgot 1932Mike CollierR (Ron) Harris Jonny Johnson Dan Maloney Dennis Smith

NSCIA and the BSIA –

The Issues 1982 – 1990 False alarms rather than the positive aspects of loss prevention, the reduction of risk, and the capture of burglars diminished the aspirations of the regulated NSCIA installers. False alarms became, and still are, the measure that overrides and diminishes all of the benefits of self-regulation by the security systems industry. Apart from false alarms, many other issues rankled with the regulated installers and particularly those in the BSIA: COMPANIES CHANNEL OF THE NSCIA A & TIBAA

Rely-a-Bell- 1921  Frank Gunn Malcolm Gunn Henry Tibbles Chubb Alarms 1968 Arthur Bishop Alex Booker David Dring Stan Groom Stuart McAinsh John Penrose Ron Ruff Paul Thistlethwaite Cyril Thistlethwaite Bob TyleyPeter WellsAuto-Call  1937 Freddie Bishop Peter Eyre Ted Gant Eric Hale Mike Hawker Willie McPhail Peter Towle

Clarion- 1946 Alan Arnold Bob Bransfield Charlie Brock Ron Cotton Harry Saunders Les King Alf Robjant Ron Warren

Ideal – 1937 Joe Eale sRoger JenningsRon LeatherSentinel1945Ted Gant David McSorley Les Owen

Univalve – 1954 Frank Mills

Associated Fire Alarms (AFA) – 1960 Mike Cahalane Terry Donoghue Peter Eyre Ted Gant John Harris Mike Hawker Ron Leather Ray LeMonde Bill Roffey Hector Tibbles Peter Towle

Brocks – 1962Bob Bransfield Charlie Brock Mike Cahalane Ron Cotton Ted Gant Les King Ray LeMonde Harry Saunders Ron Warren

Abel Alarms – 1965 Peter Eyre

Modern Alarms – 1964 Dennis Smith Mike Hawker

Ariel Alarms – 1965 Ron Leather

Brocks Alarms – 1962 Charlie Brocks Harry Saunders

Combat Alarms – 1966 Terry Donoghue Johnny Wall

Shield Protection – 1965 Mike Cahalane John Harris

S.O.S. Alarms – 1966 John Freeman

Spectre – 1966 Don Simpson

Securicor Alarms – 1968 Sir Keith Erskine Geoff Rendell Geoff Tate

Granley – 1964 Nat Granby David Levy

E.P.S. (ADT) – 1960 ‘Jimmy’ Stewart Derek Beach

The Independent Burglar alarm Association – 1972 (TIBAA)

The British Security Industry Association – 1967 (BSIA)

The NationalSupervisory Councilfor Intruder Alarms – 1972 (NSCIA) Chairman: Peter Towlevia BSIA companiesa TIBAA companiesers of BSIA and TIBAA)

 British Standards were not coming through quickly enough to take account of the domestic market, developments in technology, and the rising demand for alarm receiving centres and changes in signalling technology.

 The NSCIA technical committee was not working.

 The NSCIA disciplinary panel seemed unable to discipline offenders.  The NSCIA inspections were increasingly unproductive in terms of numbers and results.

 Competition was coming in from other markets and direct sellers, Radio Rentals, Doulton Glass, Hoover, Base 10 – all of it unregulated competition.

 The imposition of Rule 13(b) 2 in the NSCIA regulations had become a barrier to companies obtaining new business via acquisitions because they were obliged to fully update such systems, even though they may have been performing false alarm free, whilst non-regulated companies were not under this obligation.

 Between 1974 and 1984 the national security trade show, IFSEC, grew by 900%, signalling systems connected to the police grew by 100% whilst NSCIA certificates for installed systems grew by 50%, which confirmed the extent of unregulated competition.

 Other associations, certification bodies and inspectorates were emerging – Inspectors Approved Alarm Installers (IAAI), and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA).

 By 1984 the NSCIA had a surplus on turnover of £48,000 which rose to £65,000 in 1985 and £279,000 in 1986 – approximately 70% of this came from the BSIA companies.

 The industry was increasingly saddled with a ‘false alarm’ image, which damaged marketability of the product. The NSCIA Certificates of compliance issued in 1983 No. of companies No. of certificates % of total 10 More than 1000 59.1% 6 500 – 999 7.9% 20 200 – 499 14.6% 30 100 – 199 10.8% 66 Less than 100 7.6% The industry demand for changes to the NSCIA In 1984 the BSIA Security Systems Committee (SSC) discussed a report which had been written by the NSCIA. The NSCIA acknowledged there were issues that required some changes. The SSC in turn prepared their own paper setting out a series of more radical changes: 18 © Mike Cahalane

 The BSIA would admit all non-BSIA companies into membership at no cost and reduced subscriptions.

 The BSIA would have equality of voting with the other members of the NSCIA National Inspection Board (NIB).  In the event of a tie the chairman who would be from the BSIA would have a casting vote. The BIA accepted the concerns of the BSIA and asked them to ensure that the NSCIA installers that were not members of the BSIA went along with the changes. The BSIA held five meetings throughout the UK in February 1985. 92 (70%) of the 131 non-BSIA installers attended the meetings and only one voted against. In order to change the constitution of the NSCIA NIB a 75% vote from the board was required. The BSIA and the BIA had 52% between them. In effect this meant that at least two of the five outside Institutions on the NIB had to agree the change. The NIB discussed the BSIA proposal at an EGM on the 29 May 1985. The BIA voted with the BSIA. The Institutions voted down the BSIA proposals for change. Self-regulation implies regulation with the agreement of those who are regulated. It does not and cannot mean regulation with the permission of outside bodies who have no financial responsibilities for the undertaking. It was in those circumstances that several members of the BSIA resigned immediately from the NSCIA NIB. The BSIA creates its own inspectorate – The Security Systems Inspectorate (SSI) The decision of the Institutions on the NIB to hamstring the BSIA did not in itself address the fundamental contradictions in the NSCIA that had led to the impasse. Despite the continuation of effort to find solutions the BSIA did eventually walk away from the NSCIA just two years later on the 12 May 1987 when it formed the Security Systems Inspectorate (SSI). The creation of the SSI was costly and the larger BSIA companies decided that they would bear the whole cost of the formation and set-up expenses between them underwritten by loans:

BSIA companies who funded the SSI launched on the 12 May 1987

1. ADT

2. Britannia

3. Chubb Alarms

4. Group 4

5. Lander

6. Modern Alarms

7. Securicor

8. Shorrock

9. Thorn (AFA)

There were three fundamental differences had between the SSI and the NSCIA: 19 © Mike Cahalane 1. The SSI required the BSIA approved installers to have BS 5750 certification in a joint BSI/BSIA sector scheme. 2. The SSI required the BSIA central station operators to be inspected by them. 3. The SSI would inspect to BS 4737 and through codes of practice written by the BSIA and any others agreed with the BIA. Ultimately the SSI was unable to obtain accreditation from the National Accreditation Council for Certification Bodies (NACCB the forerunner of UKAS) and on the 9 March 1990 the BSIA SSC were advised that the BSIA Council intended a merger of the SSI with the NSCIA. At the March meeting of the BSIA SSC, Brian Cope, the Chairman of the SSC reported the merger would go ahead pending agreement on the format. He “Apologised that there had been no time for discussion before the Chairman of the SSI and NSCIA wrote to their Board Members”.

The BSIA Security Systems Committee Members

Brian Cope – Lander Alarms / Committee Chairman

David Fletcher – BSIA Chief Executive

Charles Hall – BSIA

Ken Banks – Chubb Alarms

Arthur Bishop – Modern Alarms

Mike Cahalane for Keith Hobbs – Britannia Security Systems

A. Collister for Richard Fernie – Chubb Alarms

Terry Donoghue – ESS

Chris Gordon Wilson for David Best – Shorrock

Mike Hawker – Modern Alarms

Jim McArthur – Group 4

Jack Sadler for Peter Eyre – Abel Alarms

Geoff Wiltshire – AFA Joe Eales / Southern Region Chairman – AFA Brian Shackleton / Northern Region Chairman – ADT

David Trickett – BSIA Manufacturers

A BSIA SSC working party was formed to establish the constitution of the new body and the Chairman of the SSC was advised to secure tiered registration in a new NACOSS constitution: The tiers of membership proposed by the BSIA SSC meeting were:

 Companies with BS5750 certification 

 Companies registered for BS5750 but not yet certificated 

 NSCIA Companies without BS5750 certification 20 © Mike Cahalane 

 Small NSCIA Companies without BS5750 certification 

On the 28 November 1990, NACOSS, the new inspectorate reconstituted from the SSI and NSCIA, commenced operations. The original recommendations of the BSIA SSC had not prevailed; there was one just tier of registered installers who were all to be compelled to obtain BS 5750 certification regardless of their size or inclination. Three years after NACOSS compelled all its approved installers to gain BS 5750 certification; the Police Research Group published a report called ‘Intruder Alarms – The Way Ahead’. It had this to say about BS 5750 / ISO 9000:

“BS 5750 has been subject to criticism from a number of sources – including the Consumers Association. A frequent criticism is that compliance with the standard does nothing more than assure a consistency of quality – not necessarily a high quality. 

While the ethos seems to be that by ensuring thorough management disciplines and working procedures are in place and collaborating with other BS 5750 suppliers will create a quality service, experience is proving that this is not necessarily the case.” 

In 1999 NACOSS merged with the Inspectorate of the Security Industry (ISI) and operates under the umbrella of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI)10. During 1999 NACOSS merged with the Inspectorate of the Security Industry (ISI), and will operate under the umbrella of a new organization, the National Security Inspectorate. ACPO is concerned that this new organization may frustrate the intention that any of the inspectorates that fail their accreditation with UKAS and/or the Private Security Industry Association will no longer be recognised by ACPO.11 The outcome of these underlying issues resulted in the police recognising several new intruder alarm inspectorates in the ACPO 2000 policy. This policy required all the security systems inspectorates to be accredited by UKAS to EN 45011.12 The Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB), the Alarms Inspectorate & Security Council (AISC) and Integrity had to obtain accreditation with UKAS. NACOSS, however, disagreed with ACPO that it should have UKAS accreditation to EN 45011,13 and was allowed to continue operating under its existing EN 45012 accreditation. These two accreditation standards serve distinctly different undertakings:

EN 45011: general requirements for bodies operating product certification systems

EN 450l2: general criteria for bodies operating assessment and certification/registration of quality systems.

These two sets of accreditation criteria illustrate that the operations performed by the inspectorates were different. AISC, Integrity and SSAIB operated as certification bodies that inspect to technical standards and codes of practice recognized throughout the industry. NACOSS operated as a certification body carrying out surveillance of its own sector scheme for ISO 9000 quality management systems. To have UKAS accreditation as both an 21 © Mike Cahalane inspectorate and a surveillance body an inspectorate needed to be accredited to both EN 45011 and EN 45012. This meant that AISC, Integrity and SSAIB accreditation to EN 45011 would ensure NACOSS the UKAS advantage it once had over the competition14 would be neutered. A consequence of the ACPO 2000 policy was that Level 1 response after October 2001, would only be provided to new systems that were capable of ‘confirmed alarms’. This reversed the previous ACPO 1995 policy of not getting involved with the technology by now specifying particular commercial technologies from amongst those permitted in the standards and codes of practice. Within two years of the ACPO 2000 policy the AISC, IAI, and Integrity 2000 were incorporated within the SSAIB. The failure of the BSIA to develop their own inspectorate was due to difficulties in gaining recognition from UKAS, resistance from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and a lack of will on the part of several BSIA companies. Some BSIA companies really favoured the NSCIA becoming a monopoly inspectorate insisting on all installers having BS 5750 believing that the costs of gaining and maintaining accreditation would favour them over the smaller companies.

Many saw no reason to disagree with the findings of the police service then nor with the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) 1995 intruder alarm policy which recognised additional intruder alarm inspectorates that did not insist on BS 5750 certification. Because the police had recognised the additional inspectorates, this widened choice for the installers, which meant that NACOSS no longer enjoyed their monopoly position. This also addressed one of the complaints to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) from many installers about the tied relationship between NACOSS and the ABI.

Any investment by the public in crime prevention measures must have their confidence, be credible with all interested parties and produce measurable results. It is well accepted that the public cannot expect consistently high standards of installation and service from the physical security industry without an acceptable system of third party assurance. Equally a range of standards must underpin third party assurance together with codes of practice designed to ensure these acceptable performance criteria can be measured.

No investment in intruder alarm systems is viable without a response service. “The police service within the UK is the principal responding agency to intruder alarm activations, and the recent research demonstrates that users of alarms want the police to maintain that role”. This was the finding of the Home Office – Police Research Group in their report on ‘Intruder Alarms – The Way Forward’ published in 1994.

In 1994 the Police Research Group report showed that the issue of false alarms from intruder alarm systems continued to grow in total despite the decrease in the rate per system.

Year Number of systems Number of false alarms False alarms per system 1990 537,848 1,255,095 2.35 1991 581,459 1,327,213 2.28 1992 626,084 1,399,331 2.23 1993 670,710 1,471,448 2.19

Police Research Group report Whilst the projected rate of false alarms fell during the period 1990 to 1993 the long term growth of systems would take the total number of false calls ever upwards and beyond a rate that was acceptable given the cost implications. The Police Research Group report commented; “The intruder alarm industry occupies a commercially unique position, in that part of the product marketed are the resources of the police service. The use or abuse of this service is borne by the tax payer and does not appear on the intruder alarm companys balance sheet, therefore there is little incentive for the less reputable companies, especially those operating outside of the remit of police intruder alarm policy, to ensure optimum intruder alarm policy”. This makes clear the imperative for the security systems industry to ensure their product does not lose credibility through poor performance.

Prior to the formation of the SSAIB the police service recognised only one inspectorate, the National Approval Council for Security Systems.The Police Research Group reported: The bulk of the intruder alarm industry was not addressed by the previous police intruder alarm policy introduced in 1989. The bulk of the intruder alarm industry was not addressed by the only industry self-regulating body – NACOSS. BS 5750 (ISO 9000) did not assure high quality.

Some of the worst performing alarm installers were those with BS 5750 registration. The replacement of the 1989 ACPO Intruder Alarm Policy in April 1995 confirmed and enhanced the principles established in earlier policies related to technically qualified standards of workmanship, third party inspection based on published technical standards and codes of practice together with additional guidelines for the achievement of the specified objective of a reduction in false alarms. Extracts from the ACPO Intruder Alarm Policy include the following: 1.1 Response to intruder alarms represents only a small part of the overall service provided by the police, and the need for an immediate and effective response does place a considerable burden on the service. Given this and the fact that in the five years up to 1993, the percentage of alarm calls caused by either equipment, communication or user error represented in excess of 92% of all alarm activations, it is essential that every 23 © Mike Cahalane effort is made to target police response on those activations which are more likely to be genuine and eliminate the unnecessary ones. This document sets out the nature of the police response to intruder alarm activations in buildings and the police requirements that can reasonably be placed upon the alarm installer, the central monitoring station and the occupier.

2.1. The aim of this Policy is to enable the police to provide an effective response to genuine intruder alarm activations thereby leading to the arrest of offenders and a reduction of losses by improving the effectiveness of alarm systems and reducing the number of false calls to the police. 3.2 Intruder alarms terminating at approved central monitoring stations; Int ruder alarms operating over direct lines to the police; Alarms using approved ABC formats; Personal attack alarms linked to remote signalling alarms.

3.3 All shall be installed, maintained and used in accordance with the current British Standard 4737, BS 7042 (High Security Systems) or BS 6799 (Wire Free Alarms) Class VI as amended by SCOP 105 and any Codes of Practice made thereunder (see Appendix B). Such alarms will be registered with the police and identified by a Unique Reference Number (URN). 3.4 Alarm central monitoring stations shall be subject to inspection by an independent Inspectorate body and certified to Category II BS 5979:1993 or BS 5979:1987 and comply with the requirements of this Policy in particular Appendix G. 5.3 In order to ensure that a satisfactory standard is maintained and to provide a third party agency through which complaints of non-compliance with this policy or relevant British Standards may be addressed, companies applying for inclusion on the list shall: a. Be inspected and recognised by NACOSS (National Approval Council for Security Systems), SSAIB (Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board), AISC (Alarms Inspectorate & Security Council), Integrity 2000, (IAI) Independent Alarm Inspectorate or other independent inspectorate body acceptable to ACPO.” The inaugural meeting of the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board was held on the 21st November 1994.

The management structure of the SSAIB

The Board and management of the SSAIB

President – Sir Stanley Bailey CBE, QPM, DL, CIMgt

Chairman – Brigadier Alan Needham JP, MA, CEng, MIERE

Chief Executive – David Hinge

Secretary – Alan Fidler Accountant – John Stanger-Leithes

Corporate Members M.D. Cahalane – Association of Security Consultants

T. Turner – British Retail Consortium G. Rendell – Electrical Contractors Association

W. Dickinson – Federation of Small Businesses

B. Robinson – International Professional Security Association

J. Morris – Institute of Security Management

L. Stanley – Master Locksmiths Association Non-Corporate Members

R.J. Byng – Registered installer

Capt. C. Denny – Independent

Major G.E. Hodge IEng, FIEIE, MIPD – Independent

P.J. Houlis – Registered installer

Dr J.M. Porteous BSc, PhD, CEng, MIEE – Independent

M.R. Peretti – Registered installer S. L. Robbins – Independent Observers

A. McInnes – Association of Chief Police Officers Insp.

A. Conn – Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

D. Grant – ACT Meters C. Armstrong – Institute of Trading Standards Administration

A.W. Stewart – Ministry of Defence Guard Service

Figure 5 shows that as the number of burglaries and claims declined the ‘value’ of NACOSS registration for their installers also declined because increased numbers of installers shared a reducing number of systems per installer. This market contradiction particularly affected the larger BSIA companies’ bottom lines leading to increasing polarisation in the market through acquisitions. And, acquisitions widened the gap between a declining number of national companies and a growing number of small companies based locally in the towns and cities throughout the United Kingdom. This polarisation is reflected in the membership of the security systems section of the BSIA that has some 180 registered installers out of the 2,000 or so registered installers in the UK.

Installer Systems

By 1998 acquisition activity had changed the face of the intruder alarm market and many of the London companies had been acquired. The acquisitions are shown in Figure 6. British and European Standards development for security systems BS 4737:1971 has, since 1972, provided the means by which the installers, insurers, police and users could obtain assurance that installed intruder alarms would be designed, installed, serviced, and in the last resort, inspected by accredited inspectorates. Despite BS 4737 being developed into a series of codes of practice it was the subject of considerable debate as to its capability to sustain and adapt to new developments in technology and systems requirements.

The development of standards to replace BS 4737 has not been particularly successful. Over the period 1971 to 1988 drafting committees at the British Standards Institution produced twenty-one intruder alarm standards in the series, and these in turn called up a range of other relevant standards and codes of practice (see appendix A).. In 1979 CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) Technical Committee for Alarm Systems, determined that work on new standards for security systems could wait for those being developed by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). In the meantime the national standards committees of the EC and EFTA countries decided there would be a ‘standstill’ of new standards for security systems other than the completion of those already in preparation. Nine years later in 1988 CENELEC decided the IEC documents were unsuitable and in 1989 work commenced on a new series of European Standards for security systems. In the meantime, the BSI published the last of the BS 4737 series in 1988. The published and outstanding European standards between 1988 – 2003. Table 1. The published European standards for security systems 1988 -2003.

Source: The Association of British Insurers 

The introduction of the first national ACPO intruder alarm policy in 1990 directed the attention of insurers and the intruder alarm industry to the potential underlying issues of police response, false alarms and the effect on claims, and therefore the effectiveness of intruder alarm systems.

The acquisitions of London intruder alarm companies 1972 – 1998 LONDON ALARM COMPANIES FROM THOMAS GUNN TO CHUBB & TYCO

1907 – 1998 Auto-Call

1937 Thomas Gunn

1907 Rely-a-Bell

1921 Sentinel

1945 Clarion

1946 Univalve

1954 Burgot

1932 Chubb Alarms

1968 Associated Fire Alarms (AFA )

1960 E.P.S. (ADT)

1960 Brocks Alarms 1962 Combat Alarms

1966 S.O.S. Alarms 1965 Shield Protection

1965 Granley Products1964Ariel Alarms

1965 Abel Alarms 1965 Modern Alarms

1998 Britannia Security

1989 Honeywell Shield 1982 RCA

1974 Securicor Alarms

1985 ADT (Tyco)

1998 Chubb

1998  The rate of publication for the ‘new’ European intruder alarm standards achieved, by comparison with other security industry sectors, is the lowest and by a substantial margin – just two (9.5%) in 15 years. CENELEC say it takes 4-5 years to develop and publish a European standard. However, 22 years after the ‘standstill’ on UK national standards the list of published European standards remains substantially incomplete.

The ABIS Award Holders 1978 – 2004 

1978 Rear Admiral Desmond Callaghan – Director-General of the NSCIA.

1979 Roy Saunders – Safes and locks.

1980 David Levy – Managing Director, Granley Products and Chairman of BSIA.

1981 Jack Worsley – Insurance surveyor, Century Insurance.

1982 Jack Taylor – Patent safes and locks.

1983 Sir John Wheeler – Chief Executive of the BSIA.

1984 Colin Bridges – Editor of the Security Surveyor.

1985 Fred Hudson – ACPO and principal of the Crime Prevention Centre at Stafford.

1986 Lance Tyler – Insurance surveyor, General Accident.

1987 Arthur Bishop – Director, Modern Alarms.

1988 John Mitchell – Safes and locks.

1989 Vic Liardet – Chubb Lock & Safe.

1990 Sir Stanley Bailey – Chief constable of Northumbria, past Chairman of the BSI Committee for intruder alarms, Patron of the ASC and President of SSAIB.

1991 Ron Warren – Intruder alarm surveyor, Brocks & Honeywell Shield Protection.

1992 Steve Neville – Managing Director, Case Security

1993 Ken Bristow – Insurance surveyor, Zurich Insurance and ABIS secretary

1994 Ron Cotton – Director, Brocks Alarms.

1995 Mike Palmer – Physical security

1996 Joe Eales – Intruder alarm surveyor, AFA

1997 Norman Searle – Crime prevention officer, Avon Constabulary

1998 Mike Cahalane – Director and co-founder, Association of Security Consultants

1999 Adrian Eatwell – Crime prevention office, City of London Police


Sue Yoxall MBE – Neighbourhood Watch


Ray Sands – Safes


Alan McInnes – General Manager, Secured by Design


Martyn Halliday – Chief burglary surveyor, Norwich Union Insurance


Geoff Tate – Chief Executive, Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board

The Insurers 

Burglary claims had led insurers to require intruder alarm systems as a condition of insurance for selected high risks in the City of London. By 1952 burglary had become a national concern of insurers leading to the formation of ABIS. By 1966 there were some 57,000 intruder alarms capable of signalling alarm conditions to the police. Despite the formation of the NSCIA in 1972, and the addition of a further 168,000 remote signalling systems, insurance claims continued to grow until they reached their high point of £1,025 million in 1992

The Police 

By 1931 the numbers of installed burglar alarm systems was significant enough for the Times to refer to these in a short article titled ‘Burglar Alarms’.17 Although this made no mention of any particular company, it did draw attention to the problem of false alarms:

“The Police Committee of the Corporation of London have been thinking about burglar alarms, which make altogether too much noise. Every one who has suffered from an alarm clock knows how unwelcome prolonged buzzing can become, and there will be general sympathy for the Ward of Cripplegate Without which reports the presence of alarms that ring for thirty-six hours on end. 

” Alarms that ring in the street frighten everybody, including the burglars, and justice is not done. It would be very much better it burglar alarms were content to follow the practice of ordinary electric bells and to ring where they were wanted, in this case inside the nearest police station. The burglar, not knowing whether he had rung an alarm or not, would continue his leisurely depredation until he was caught red-handed.” 

The Times article illustrates some of the early issues, whether bells should sound immediately or silently call the police, the ability of the system to defeat burglary, and false alarms.

The Police & ACPO Intruder Alarm Policies 

It is unfortunate that the findings of a 1956 Home Office report on crime prevention methods18 have been substantially distorted by the insidious reputation for false alarms with which intruder alarm systems have been labelled. Despite false alarms, that report recognised the benefit of such systems:

“Half the false alarms were due to carelessness on the part of the user … Whilst it may be difficult to draw a definite conclusion on the preventative value of burglar alarms, the fact that arrests result from them is of an undoubted deterrent effect, and it is for this reason that the installation of burglar alarms should, in our view, be encouraged. (Section 1.6)” 

Intruder alarm systems, whilst effective as a deterrent and in detecting intruders, are actually impotent without a speedy and reliable response to alarm activations. The police service within the UK is the principal responding agency to intruder alarm activations , and users of alarms want the police to maintain that role.

The 1990 ACPO Intruder Alarm Policy 

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) decided to introduce a national policy on response to intruder alarm systems, which became active in August 1990. The national policy was developed with the British Security Industry Associations’ (BSIA), and other interested parties, under the umbrella of the Intruder Alarm Group (AIAG). The AIAG was a procedural device to underpin police requirements set out as ACPO policies defining the delivery of first response to security systems.

The 1990 policy relied on published national standards and codes of practice to substantially reduce false alarms, whilst the individual constabularies published lists of installers that signed an undertaking of compliance with the national intruder alarm policy and adherence to the national standards. The policy detailed the fundamentals:

“All alarm systems shall be installed, maintained and used in accordance with the current British Standard 4737 or BS 7042 (High Security Systems), any current Codes of Practice made thereunder, and the conditions of this policy. In the case of Intruder Alarm Systems connected to remote centres, the centre to which it is connected should comply with the current British Standard 5979, and shall be operated in compliance with the relevant sections of this policy. 

This policy does not impose any liability on this Force, or its officers, or the Police Authority, arising out of any acts or omissions connected with an alarm installation, including failing to respond to the system. 

A list shall be published by the Chief Officer of Police giving details of those alarm companies who maintain an installing branch within the Police area or within a reasonable distance thereof, and who agree to abide by the conditions of this policy and to install systems to a minimum of the current British Standards.” 

The 1990 policy introduced the concept of filtering alarm conditions at the alarm receiving centres (ARCs) so that those identified as ‘user errors’ could then be aborted i.e. not reported to the police. If the alarm condition coincided with an opening or closing time the ARC had to contact the premises to identify rightful persons at site thus preventing a false alarm to the police. Because it was known that users cause the majority of false alarms through the poor operation of their security systems19 the application of ARC filtering did reduce false alarms

The 1995 ACPO intruder alarm policy 

A Home Office report published in 1994 stated:

“The intruder alarm industry occupies a commercially unique position, in that part of the product marketed are the resources of the police service. The use or abuse of this service is borne by the tax payer and does not appear on the intruder alarm company balance sheet, therefore there is little incentive for the less reputable companies, especially those operating outside of the remit of police intruder alarm policy, to ensure optimum intruder alarm policy.”20 

The report included a number of conclusions regarding the intruder alarm industry: 21

 The bulk of the intruder alarm industry was not addressed by the previous police intruder alarm policy introduced in 1990.

The bulk of the intruder alarm industry was not addressed by the only industry self-regulating body— NACOSS.

The NACOSS BS 5750 (ISO 9000) mandatory regime did not assure high quality.

Some of the worst performing alarm installers were those with BS 5750 registration.

An issue for the police was the cost of ACPO’s own technical inspectorates, one of whose functions was to inspect installations and resolve false alarm issues. The resources of police services were increasingly subject to financial limitations. Alongside these resource issues, the private manned security services were taking over other more profitable police services, i.e. transport and prison services.

By 1995 there were 651 NACOSS-approved installers,22 and more than 1200 remained unregulated. Insurers and police forces recognising that they were unable to resolve the rising levels of burglary actively encouraged the demand for intruder alarm systems by any other means. Insurers generally promoted NACOSS installations. The NACOSS regulated installers believed that crime prevention officers throughout the UK constabularies encouraged the growth of non-regulated local installers, who were thus able to operate successfully and avoid regulation by NACOSS.

In the light of the experience of the ACPO 1990 intruder alarm policy a revised ACPO policy was issued in May 1995.23 This policy reassured the installers and insurers regarding the police commitment to first response to intruder alarms installed by regulated installers:

The aim of this Policy is to enable the police to provide an effective response to genuine intruder alarm activations thereby leading to the arrest of offenders and a reduction of losses by improving the effectiveness of alarm systems and reducing the number of false calls to the police. 

In order to ensure that a satisfactory standard is maintained and to provide a third party agency through which complaints of non-compliance with this policy or relevant British Standards may be addressed, companies applying for inclusion on the list shall: 

Be inspected and recognised by an independent inspectorate body acceptable to ACPO.

he filtering requirements were spelt out in more detail, and intruder alarm systems that gave more than an acceptable rate of false alarms were to be actively removed from Level 1 response. Although this procedure was spelt out in the 1990 and 1995 ACPO policies, removal from police response had not been actively applied, presumably because it presented additional resource issues.

The 1995 policy recognised new types of systems that were capable of ‘confirmed alarms’. ‘Confirmed alarms’ require additional equipment fitted to such systems that is audibly, visually, or sequentially capable of confirming that an activation of the system can be passed directly to the police. However, the policy did not make the use of confirmed alarms systems mandatory, for the following reasons:

“The confirmation lobby had assumed from the encouragement they were receiving over the years from police noteworthies that the new policy would reward confirmed alarms by assigning privileged priority. 

It has declined to say this and deliberately so, for ACPO no longer sees it as its role to confer badges of police approval to particular commercial technologies. It is up to ‘the industry’ to come up with its own technical solutions to false alarms and not expect the police to be an unpaid sales force.”

In addition to conforming to standards of workmanship based on technical standards and codes of practice, the policy also required installers to be registered with one of four new recognised inspectorates.26 These were the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB), the Alarms Inspectorate and Security Council (AISC), Integrity 2000 and the Independent Alarm Inspectorate (IAI). With the recognition of these additional third party inspectorates NACOSS no longer enjoyed their 13 year monopoly.

The ACPO 2000 policy for security systems 

The ACPO 2000 security systems policy became operative in January 2001.28 It was a radical departure from previous ACPO policies and contained several significant changes:

 The security systems inspectorates had to be accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

The principle of an administration charge for ‘unique reference numbers’ (URNs) was introduced. No police response assured was made available without a URN bein g issues by the appropriate constabulary.

New security systems and those applying for the restoration of police response were required to include additional equipment and technology that enabled activations to be ‘confirmed’ before they are passed to the police for response

removal from police response had not been actively applied, presumably because it presented additional resource issues.

The 1995 policy recognised new types of systems that were capable of ‘confirmed alarms’. ‘Confirmed alarms’ require additional equipment fitted to such systems that is audibly, visually, or sequentially capable of confirming that an activation of the system can be passed directly to the police. However, the policy did not make the use of confirmed alarms systems mandatory, for the following reasons:

rom October 2001 new systems requiring police response had to capable of ‘confirmed alarms’. This reversed the previous ACPO 1995 policy of not getting involved with the technology by specifying commercial technologies from amongst those permitted in the standards and codes of practice.

Confirmed alarm signals

The new ACPO requirements for confirmation technology requires the installation of equipment specifically defined in BS DD 243: 1999:30

Audibly confirmed 

Confirmed by a human intelligence at a remote location (normally an alarm receiving centre) who, after having interpreted audio information transmitted from the protected premises, has made a decision that there is a high probability that a genuine intrusion or a genuine attempted intrusion has occurred. 

Sequentially confirmed 

Emanating from two or more independent sensors, detectors and/or processors which are so configured that there is a high probability that a genuine intrusion or a genuine attempted intrusion has occurred. 

Visually confirmed 

Confirmed by a human intelligence at a remote location (normally an alarm receiving centre) who, after having interpreted a visual image transmitted from the protected premises, has made a decision that there is a high probability that a genuine intrusion or a genuine attempted intrusion has occurred. 

This additional equipment is not for the purpose of detecting intruders, but for the purpose of reducing false alarms and imposes substantial additional costs on all new users

The big issue – False alarms, what should be done? 

Balancing the interests of insurers, installers, police and end-users lies somewhere between the positions of those who say that reducing false alarms still further is counter-productive, whilst others claimed that the installers, alarm receiving centres and users were not resolving poor operation, system design and equipment failings. Given these underlying contradictions, it is unlikely that ACPO policies alone can produce results that will satisfy all stakeholders

The 1990 ACPO policy was deemed insufficiently productive in reducing false alarms unless the police applied effective sanctions. The 1995 ACPO policy achieved a substantial reduction in false alarms by the withdrawal of response from those that caused them. Overall the 1990, 1995 and 2000 policies did reduce false alarms. However, the impact of the ACPO 2000 policy brings into question the value of investment in and reliance on security systems.

Even so, the contribution that intruder alarm systems have made to the socio-economic fabric of the United Kingdom in reducing burglary, insured and uninsured loss, and the fear of crime, together with the coincident reduction in the cost of policing, has been under-valued because false alarms have always hidden the benefits. Figure 7 compares the arrests from genuine alarms with those convicted at Court for burglary.

Three-quarters of police arrests are said to be as a result of activating alarm systems,32 and a significant number of those convicted at Court for burglary are as a result of captures from genuine alarms between 1991 – 2000, an average of 21% over the period. However, arrests from genuine alarms has consistently fallen over the period of the three ACPO intruder alarm policies, which suggests that the policies may have been successful in reducing false alarms, but at the expense of arrests.

Despite the best efforts of many, ensuring that the police only respond to genuine alarms is not only impracticable but destructive of the very purposes that the security systems industry and the police have as common objectives—the prevention of burglary and robbery and the arrest of criminals.

The police service cost £8.4 billion in 2001-200233. Whilst false alarms are a waste of police time the £94.9 million (1.1%) they cost is tiny by comparison with the 43% of police officers’ time wasted in police stations34. It would be less than satisfactory to the public if the Home Office were to countenance any conclusion that first response to security systems by the police was unproductive, and should be ceased, transferred to another arm of the ‘partnership’ or contracted out. If first response by the police is to mean anything to the public it must do so on a realistic basis, in which case it clearly needs resuscitating before it is ‘killed off’ too.

In September 1999, a leading security systems industry spokesman from the BSIA gave unequivocal support for the policy of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of America (NBFAA) regarding police charges for annual registration of security systems and fines for false alarm offenders:

“No alarm user can operate, or cause to be operated an alarm system at a site without a permit … It gets better if it has to be renewed each year … it gets better still … can you imagine the 20 percent customer-base who cause the problems taking kindly to being fined?”35 

These views reflect those who not only want to see police response continue but the costs being recovered through directly charging the false alarm offenders.

Should the police charge for false alarms36, and should the charge represent the real cost of response and fall on those who are the cause? In return for recovering the cost of false alarms, the police service should come to terms with liability for tort. Charging the 25 per


1907 – 1995
1907 – Thomas Gunn Limited started installing intruder alarms in the City of London
1920 – Mr Mountstephen invented the 999 autodial equipment used by Burgot 1921 – Rely-a-Bell founded
1932 – Burgot founded 1937 – Auto-Call Alarms founded 1937 – Ideal Alarms founded 1945 – Sentinel Alarms founded 1946 – Clarion Alarms founded
1952 – City of London introduce first crime prevention officers
1953 – ABIS founded
1954 – Univalve founded
1958 – Metropolitan Police introduce crime prevention officers
1959 – Associated Fire Alarms (AFA) acquired by Auto-Call
1960 – Burgot acquire Rely-a-Bell
1962 – Burglary Protection and Insurance Surveys by Don Bûgg published
1962 – Work commenced on British Standard 4737: 1971
1962 – Brocks Alarms founded
1962 – Chubb Lock & Safe Co acquire Burgot
1964 – Modern Alarms founded
1965 – Abel Alarms founded
1965 – Ariel Alarms founded
1965 – Shield Protection founded
1966 – Combat Alarms founded
1967 – British Security Industry Association (BSIA) founded
1968 – Burgot and Rely-a-Bell are merged within Chubb Alarms
1970 – Security Surveyor – First Publication
1970 – BSIA propose constitution for an intruder alarm inspectorate
1971 – BSIA Inspectorate to be called the National Supervisory Council for Intruder Alarms
1971 – Chairman of NSCIA NIB Peter Towle
1971 – Non-BSIA installers association BABAC/TABAC formed
1971 – BS4737 1st Edition published
1972 – The Independent Burglar Alarm Association founded (TIBAA)
1972 – BIA join the NSCIA Board subject to changes in rules
1972 – TIBAA take two seats on NSCIA NIB
1972 – BIA take chair of NSCIA NIB
1972 – NSCIA commence inspections of approved installers
1972 – The International Security Exhibition and Conference held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel
1974 – TIBAA merge with the BSIA
1974 – ISEC becomes IFSEC by including fire.
1974 – BSIA discuss the appointment of a full-time chief executive
1976 – BIA want BSIA central stations to monitor direct line openings and closings
1976 – John Wheeler appointed director general of the BSIA
1976 – BSIA Alarm Section appoint own chairman
1976 – BSIA change rules to make membership of NSCIA mandatory
1976 – IFSEC moves to Olympia – 145 exhibitors
1976 – Loughborough 1st report on false alarms under review by BSIA
1976 – Alarm Industry Training Board under review by BSIA – dropped in 1977
1977 – BSIA issues false alarm management guide
1977 – Study on false alarms at a cost of £15,000 under review
1977 – BSIA Intruder Alarm Users’ Handbook being drafted
1977 – The intruder alarm industry accounting practice is referred to the Price Commission
1977 – CENELEC reviewing national and international standards for intruder alarms
1977 – BS 4737 2nd Edition published
1977 – Desmond Callaghan (Rear Admiral Rtd), director general of NSCIA retires
1978 – Alan Needham (Brigadier Rtd) appointed director general of NSCIA
1978 – BSIA Handbook for the Management of Intruder Alarms published
1979 – Joint BIA/BSIA meeting on equipment testing
1979 – Loughborough 1st study on intruder alarms to cost £20K (¼ BIA, ¼ BSIA, ½ H.O)
1979 – NSCIA Code of Practice under review
1979 – NSCIA set up mini-training board
1979 – NSCIA recruit training officer
1980 – NSCIA complete 4 sections of Code of Practice
1980 – Loughborough 2nd study on false alarms to cost £40K
1980 – UK become secretaries to IEC, BSIA are convenor of WG1and chairman of WG2
1980 – NSCIA Code of Practice chapters 1- 4 submitted to OFT
1980 – Electrical Contractors Association seek a Bill to register contractors and operatives
1980 – BSIA discuss IEC or CENELEC as the source for international standards
1980 – NSCIA to consider admitting small installers of domestic intruder alarms
1980 – Cheshire Constabulary propose charging for police response
1981 – BS 5979 1st Edition published
1981 – IFSEC goes annual at Olympia – 440 exhibitors
1981 – Sub-contracted work is being given NSCIA certificates by approved installers
1981 – CENELEC meeting of WG2 being attended by BSIA
1981 – Connections of intruder alarms in police stations to be withdrawn over 5 years
1981 – CENELEC TC/79 Alarm Systems to take on BSI/EEL 27 work
1981 – BSIA / ACPO – a false alarm executive to be appointed in each company
1982 – NSCIA agree to the issue of amended certificates for domestic alarms
1982 – British Telecom are reducing the ABC programme in favour of Base 10
1982 – BSIA discuss installation franchising by Group 4
1982 – Northumbria Constabulary require central stations to meet BS 5979
1982 – NSCIA propose inspections of central stations to ensure the meet BS 5979
1982 – BSIA manufacturers propose BS 5750 as a test standard for equipment
1982 – The OFT have raised industry maintenance agreements with the NSCIA
1982 – Police reviewing all the individual police force policies
1982 – BSIA discuss wireless alarms
1983 – BSIA accept the principle of aborting an alarm condition caused on opening
1982 – Home Office Ad-Hoc committee of ACPO and BSIA discuss National Force Policy
1982 – Loughborough – West Midlands and Manchester police study on intruder alarms
1983 – BSIA conference on Statutory Sick Pay
1983 – Security Surveyor editorial – there are 3,000 installers in the UK – 140 in NSCIA
1983 – The BSIA discuss paper on the re-organisation of the NSCIA
1983 – BSIA meet with BIA to discuss changes to NSCIA
1983 – BSIA working party produce proposals on BSIA/NSCIA future relationship
1983 – BSIA meet with BIA and NSCIA to agree way forward for the NSCIA
1984 – Home Office Police Scientific Development Branch paper on equipment testing
1984 – Inspectors Approved Alarm Installers (IAAI) formed as an alternative to the NSCIA
1984 – BSI draft for comment on 3rd revision of BS 4737 sent out
1984 – NSCIA board refer rule 13(b)2 to TAC on request from BSIA
1984 – BSIA working party to review accounting practices in the industry – letter from OFT
1984 – BSI change name of EEL 27 committee to FHM 45
1984 – BSIA rules no longer require members to be approved installers with the NSCIA
1984 – National seminar on false alarms held by Northumbria constabulary
1985 – BSIA renamed Alarm Systems Section the Security Systems Section
1985 – BSIA hold 5 meeting for non-BSIA NSCIA installers throughout UK for NSCIA changes
1985 – BSIA advised of the creation of the Loss Prevention Council
1985 – BSIA proposals for changing the structure of the NSCIA board lost at the NIB
1985 – BSIA discuss forming their own inspectorate
1985 – NSCIA NIB technical operations committee being reconstituted
1986 – BSI FHM/45 advise BSIA that drafts of standards to test detection equipment ready
1986 – NSCIA productivity of inspectors to be improved by outside specialists
1986 – BSIA fund their Technical Executive through a surcharge on NSCIA certificates
1986 – BSIA appoint David Fletcher as their Chief Executive
1986 – BSIA discuss forming a joint UK inspectorate with the ECA’s
1987 – BS 4737 Section 4.1 planning and installation published
1987 – Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) launch their own inspectorate
1987 – BT acquires Telecom Security and MD of Telecom Red joins as Managing Director
1987 – BSIA launch their own inspectorate for intruder alarms on the12 May 1987
1987 – BSIA publish codes of practice for CCTV and access control
1987 – BSIA require their members to have BS 5750 to be admitted to the SSI
1987 – Police propose charging £10 per installation annual registration
1987 – BSI / BSIA produce Quality Assessment Schedule to BS 5750 for security systems
1987 – West Midlands Police put SSI on their approved list of companies
1987 – Colin Bridges becomes editor of Security Surveyor
1988 – BSIA agree NSCIA to continue inspections of their members systems until 1990
1988 – Association of British Insurers sign memorandum of understanding with BSIA on SSI
1988 – BSIA no longer appoint directors to NSCIA
1988 – Loss Prevention Council (LPC) take over NSCIA
1988 – Association of British Insurers appoint a director to the board of the SSI
1988 – BSIA join Euralarm
1988 – BS 4737 – last publication of standard in the series
1988 – BSIA make SSI enrolment and BS 5750 certification a condition of membership
1988 – BSIA objective of 1.5 false alarms per system per annum
1988 – BSIA Southern Area express concern about the amount of paper generated by SSI
1989 – BSIA false alarm rate 2.15 per system per annum
1989 – Redcare false alarms due to line faults reported as 1 per system per annum
1989 – BSIA advised that due to work in CENELEC all work on Standards are on Standstill
1989 – SSI commence inspection and certification of BSIA members central stations
1989 – NSCIA issue No.2 BS 4737/NSCIA CoP Checklist
1989 – BT introduce change in London 01 dialling numbers
1989 – BSIA installers will fit 20 minute bell cut-outs on all systems from 1990
1989 – BSIA to stop using sub-contractors
1989 – ABI produce draft guidelines for the installation of intruder alarms
1989 – BSIA advised that a European equivalent of BS 4737 available in 12 months
1989 – NSCIA – LPC planning central station inspections
1990 – Greater Manchester Police report that 456 installers have asked to join their list
1990 – BSIA merge SSI into NACOSS
1990 – ACPO – 1st national intruder alarm policy published
1990 – BSIA advised it was unlikely they will receive NACCB accreditation for SSI in 1990
1990 – SSI merge with NSCIA
1991 – NACOSS reconstituted from the SSI and NSCIA
1994 – SSAIB Security Systems & Alarms Inspectorate Board founded
1995 – ACPO intruder alarm policy recognises the SSAIB and 3 other inspectorates in addition to NACOSS

1Mike Cahalane – Security consultant, mike_cahalane@lineone.net.


For an early history of the security systems industry in the USA see Greer, W. (1991) A History of Alarm Security. National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, Washington. For an extensive piece of research into the development of security systems and associated standards in the UK incorporating substantial work on the problem of false alarms see Fieldsend, T. (1994) Intruder Alarms: The Way Forward? Policy and Resource Implications for the Police Service. London: Home Office Police Research Group. For a study of the development of police policies relating to their response to alarms form security systems, together with data on burglaries and insurance claims see Cahalane. M. (2001) Reducing False Alarms Has a Price – So Does Response: Is The Real Price Worth Paying? Security Journal. Vol. 14, No. 1. For a focused study on the potential for the reduction of false alarms in the USA by implementing charges for police response see Deaton, R.F. (2003) Burglar Alarm Task Force Report. City of Los Angeles Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst. Los Angeles. For a substantial study of a select pool of regulated installers and their false alarm ratios and correctional practices see Gill, M. & Hemming, M. (2003) The Causes of False Alarms. A Research Project for the National Security Inspectorate. Perpetuity Press Limited. For a critical study of police response and the breakdown in partnership between public and private service providers which analyses a range of date demonstrating the deterioration in this area of security for the public see Cahalane, M. (2004) Police Response: A Partnership in Decline? Security Journal. Vol.17, No.2. pp 35-54. The effectiveness of intruder alarm systems and police response see K.Mann (2007) The Metropolitan Police Policies On Intruder Alarms Reduce Their Ability To Arrest For Burglary

Mike Cahalane is a past chairman of the Security Systems Committee of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA). In 1965 he founded Shield Protection Ltd which he sold to Honeywell in 1982. Following appointments as a director and general manger with Honeywell Shield Protection and Britannia Security Systems he practised as a security consultant from 1991. In 1972 he was a founder of the Independent Burglar Alarm Association (TIBAA), and the National Supervisory Council for Intruder Alarms (NSCIA), He is a founder and director of the Association of Security Consultants (ASC) in 1991 and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board SSAIB) in 1994. He has been involved with the development of British Standards for security systems from 1972 on the British Standard committees GW/1Electronic security systems and GW/1/11 Alarm receiving centres. He has published papers on security systems, alarm receiving centres, and security consultancy. In 1998 he was presented with the Association of Burglary Insurance Surveyors’ Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement and Services to Security and Crime Prevention’. In 2003 he was ‘runner up’ in the Security Excellence Awards for ‘Best Security Consultant’ presented to the individual or practice which has demonstrated excellence in the discipline of security consultancy. In 2006 he was awarded the Imbert Prize for the ASC Security Consultant who had done most for security consultancy. In 2013 he was aware the Peter Greenwood Award for Services to the Security Industry by the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals.


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