Types of Home Security Systems Available
There are a wide range of systems available to give extra security to a home. Whilst some of these systems can be expensive, they will give some peace of mind especially in areas with a high crime rate or for properties which contain high value items. All police stations have an officer or officers who specialise in crime prevention advice and some will visit homes to give advice on security methods that could usefully be installed. In addition, the insurance company providing buildings and/or contents insurance for the property may be able to advise on the companies or types of system that the householder should use.
AlarmsThere are, broadly, two types of alarms:
- Audio-only alarms, which make a loud sound when activated;
- Monitored systems – when activated these alarms notify a remote monitoring station, or “Alarm Receiving Centre”. The monitoring station will then notify a person who has been nominated by the householder and, possibly, the police. Naturally, these systems are more expensive because, in addition to installation and maintenance, there will be a fee for the monitoring service.
Monitored alarms offer an extra level of security because assistance will be sent to the property. The police will only monitor alarms which have been installed by a company which complies with the Association of Chief Police Officers’ security policy – and there are very few companies which meet the rigorous standards set by the police. The police will, however, still respond if they are notified that an alarm is ringing by someone who has heard it.
Alarms are controlled by a key or keypad and it is usually possible to select coverage of particular parts of the property. For example, the alarm may be switched on downstairs when the occupants go upstairs to bed. Home alarms can also be fitted with panic buttons allowing a householder to call for assistance if an intruder is in the house even when the alarm itself is switched off.
InstallationMany of the more sophisticated systems will have to be installed and serviced by a specialist company. Before choosing a company, householders must check the company’s credentials and make sure that the equipment they install complies with British or European standards. Householders should never agree to have a security system installed by a company who employs cold-calling or doorstep selling techniques.
The company fitting the system – or just providing a quote – should carry out a full risk assessment before recommending a system suited to the householder’s needs. In some cases insurers demand a particular type of security system and the company carrying out the risk assessment should incorporate these requirements into their recommendations. Even if an insurance company has not demanded that a security system be installed, having one put in is likely to result in lower insurance premiums.
Some types of alarm can be fitted by householders themselves. However, the police do not recommend this because the householder is unlikely to have a real understanding of their security requirements and may not install the alarm properly.
Alarm SensorsAlarms depend on sensors to activate the audible or remote system:
- Movement sensors – these are usually passive infra-red devices which activate the alarm when movement is detected in the area they cover. They can also be ultrasonic or microwave devices;
- Magnetic sensors – these are activated when the magnetic field between devices is broken by someone or something moving through it;
- Perimeter devices – these devices can be left switched on when people are using the room or area which they cover and will activate the alarm if, for example, glass is broken.