Choosing your intruder alarm system provider

Intruder alarms (burglar alarms) are a visible deterrent making potential intruders think twice before acting, as well as sounding the alarm and/or notifying a remote centre when someone has broken into a property.

Intruder alarm systems are typically either ‘bells only audible alarms’ or ‘remotely monitored alarms’ with either a key holder only or Police response. In many cases more modern solutions also provide Internet based phone apps which send alerts to your phone and allow you to control the alarm system from a remote location.

When activated an ‘audible alarm’ sounds to alert and warn anyone in earshot, effectively relying on those that hear it to take appropriate action. Additionally, these can often be set up to provide voice, text or email alerts to your phone.

A ‘remotely monitored’ alarm sends signals to a 24/7 monitoring centre who are contracted to provide a response such as to:

  • notify the Police in the event of a confirmed alarm signal 
  • notify nominated keyholders and/or 
  • notify a linked keyholding service 

You can be assured that an NSI approved company is competent to assess your needs, help review the risks on the premises, and then design and install your security alarm system to the standards required by the Police and your insurer.


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Police response

Police Policy is designed to ensure efficient deployment of responders to intruder alarms.

In order to obtain Police response to an alarm in the UK, it is essential to use the services of:

  • an approved installer recognised by the Police, and
  • an approved Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC)

The Police require your alarm system to be installed and maintained routinely. Your NSI approved installer can do this.

Installers holding NSI Gold or Silver approval are recognised by the Police.

NSI approved installers will provide you with a contract covering alarm monitoring services provided by an NSI approved Alarm Receiving Centre, as well as maintenance, unless you choose otherwise. They will also provide:

  • A Certificate of Compliance to PD 6662 or BS 8418 for your installation.
  • Explain how a Police Unique Reference Number (URN) can be obtained. This means your alarm system will be registered with your local Police Force.

You can check the authenticity of the company by asking to see its Certificate of Approval or check on the NSI Company Finder.

The Police Response in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will only register and respond to alarm systems that meet the requirements of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

In the UK, excluding Scotland, the Police commit to immediate response (subject to priorities). However;

  • Immediate response will be withdrawn following three false alarm calls in a rolling twelve-month period.  
  • Reinstatement of response can follow the identification of the cause of false alarms and demonstrating appropriate remedial action has been taken.

To receive Police response for a remotely monitored alarm system, any systems newly installed (since June 2019) must conform to PD 6662:2017 and BS 8243.  

The Police Response in Scotland

The Police in Scotland will only register and respond to alarm systems that meet the requirements of the Police Scotland Policy.

Police response is provided according to the following levels:

Level One – Immediate / Urgent

Level Two - desirable but dependent on resources

Level Three - no Police response (keyholder attendance required)

Police will operate Level One response for all newly installed systems. However;

  • Following three false calls from a system in a twelve-month period, Level One - priority response is downgraded to Level Two.
  • For Level One to be reinstated the system problem must be rectified and remain false alarm free for three months.
  • Where a further two false alarm calls occur in the same twelve month period, the system is downgraded to Level Three.
Insurance considerations

Your insurance company may insist you have an intruder alarm installed in your property and might specify the grade of system. This will depend on the risk level of your property as well as the insurance company’s Policy. Your insurer may also insist that it is installed and regularly maintained by an NSI Gold or Silver approved company and may ask for documentation that the alarm has been installed in line with their requirements.

Insurance premium discounts

You may be entitled to receive a discount if your intruder alarm meets your insurer's requirements. You might invalidate your insurance cover if a burglary occurs when you had left the property without setting the alarm.

Check with your insurance company when you apply for or renew a Policy to avoid losing out. If you are using an insurance broker to arrange your insurance, make sure they check this for you.


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