Audible intruder alarms are widely used to protect property from unauthorised entry and are often required by insurance companies. Burglar alarms that are sounding should be reported to the Police so that evidence of criminal activity can be investigated.
The Council and Police, however, receive many complaints about alarm systems that sound for long periods of time, causing serious noise disturbance to neighbours, and where there is no evidence of a break-in.
Alarm systems should have an automatic cut-off device fitted to stop the alarm sounding after 20 minutes. Most modern alarms have such a device already fitted, but cut-out devices can be fitted to older existing systems.
Alarms causing a noise nuisance
First contact the police as the alarm may be operating correctly and the premises may have been broken into. Also, the Police hold details of some keyholders for intruder alarms and may be able to contact the keyholder to have the alarm switched off.
If the police are unable to assist, contact us with the details of the premises, including the address and how long the alarm has been ringing and whether it is ringing intermittently or continuously. Legally, we cannot take anonymous complaints, so we need your personal details, including name, address and a contact telephone number. Be assured, your personal details will be treated as confidential.
When an alarm system is reported as causing a noise disturbance, the Council will try to contact a keyholder so that the problem can be resolved quickly and with the minimum of fuss. All alarm holders in Tandridge are, therefore, invited to provide Environmental Health with their keyholder contact details on the following Audible Intruder Alarm - key-holder record form The Council makes no charge for keeping and updating these details.
If a Council officer is satisfied that an alarm is causing a significant noise disturbance and is unable to contact a keyholder within a reasonable period of time then formal action may be taken to silence the alarm.
An authorised officer of the Council has the power to enter premises without force in order to silence an audible intruder alarm where the following conditions are met:
- that the alarm has been sounding continuously for more than 20 minutes, or
- intermittently for more than 1 hour
- that it is likely to give persons living or working in the vicinity reasonable cause for annoyance.
Once on the premises the authorised officer can take or authorise whatever steps are necessary to silence the alarm, e.g. disabling the externally mounted sounder.
Where the use of force is required to enter premises, an application to a Justice of the Peace may be made for a warrant to enter and silence the alarm.
The officer may take with him such other persons and equipment as he thinks necessary for the purpose of silencing the alarm. This will normally include an electrician and where force is required to enter premises, a locksmith.
Provided that the actions were taken in good faith, the Council, its employees or contractors are protected by law from any action, liability, claim or demand e.g. from the householder or alarm holder.
Any reasonable costs incurred by the Council in connection with silencing the alarm including entering the premises, silencing the alarm, securing the premises and administration may be recoverable by the authority from the responsible person. The minimum charge will include the electrician's call out fee and an Environmental Health administrative fee of £166.