The professional installer and the DIY market

Posted On 02 Aug 2018
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What impact will the DIY security market have upon professional systems and installers going forward? Simon Banks of CSL gives us his opinion on the rapidly growing technology trend:

There has always been a DIY choice for security and many DIY systems are fit for purpose, fulfilling a requirement to bring a basic level of security to everyone.

DIY systems tend to lack professional specifications and standards’ compliance and are often not recommended by the Police, Insurers or specifiers.  There’s a common misperception that Smartphone Apps offer an equivalent service to a security system that offers a Police response to an alarm activation.

An end-user can theoretically view an alarm on their smartphone and simply notify the Police by dialling 999. Whilst this is currently true if the end-user is able to verify the alarm event (eg. they have seen the burglary), it is a loophole that will soon be closed by the NPCC (formally ACPO).  Signalled Police response is tried, tested and affordable. A one-off fee of less than £60 provides constant Police response for the life of the system, there’s no recurring fee – it’s nothing short of a bargain!  With the introduction of Electronic Transfer of URN Activations facilitated by ECHO (Electronic Call Handling Operations), response times will be even quicker.  ‘Apps to 999’ are classified by the Police as non-compliant Type B systems and will not be able to use ECHO.

In 2017 Type B alarms generated over 16,000 false alarms across 17 Police forces with only 3000 genuine calls. By comparison Professional Signalling (Digi, DualCom, Redcare) signalled 136,000 genuine calls to the Police whom only failed to attend just 1431 premises providing a pretty decent 99% Police response across 43 Police forces.  As a responsible Industry protecting lives and property it seems sensible to only promote professionally installed security systems with signalling. Police dispatches will arrive at the alarmed premises before the keyholder in the majority of cases, thus adding another level of security to the vulnerable employee or family member attending an alarm activation.   Average UK Police Response during 2017 was 20 minutes in rural areas and 10 minutes urban.  The Met Police have released stats showing 80% of URN signalled alarms are responded to in under 10 minutes and the reminder in no more than 15 minutes.

Even with these hard facts, some installers claim that Police response is a hard sell to their clients as they believe it’s too slow when set against the uplift in costs. I would urge installers to remind their clients of the very palatable URN fee along with the massive benefits of a 24/7 professionally managed Alarm Receiving Centre to watch, analyse, filter and – if appropriate – despatch the Police.

Our Industry sector must embrace new and relevant technologies but not at the expense of standards and competencies underpinning the professional security industry.  For the security of premises that aren’t specified by an Insurer or risk assessor, the choice should be at the discretion of the business or householder.  After all, it’s their life and property at risk and ultimately their peace of mind.

Other experts give us their opinion in the August 2018 edition of PSI magazine