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Environment

Burglar Alarms

Intruder alarms which sound for long periods of time or frequently are a common cause for complaint. Alarms are designed to be loud to draw attention to premises which have been broken into, however, when alarms malfunction they have an ability to cause a nuisance and disturbance to people living or working nearby.

Noise from an alarm can constitute a nuisance and may result in the Council serving notice upon the premises and having the alarm disconnected to abate the nuisance. The person responsible for the alarm will be charged if the Council have to take action to silence an alarm.

If you have an alarm fitted to your premises you should ensure that it operates correctly and is serviced regularly.  An intruder alarm should be fitted with a cut out device which re sets the alarm after 20 minutes.  You may also wish to notify the Council of a key holder for your premises who can be contacted to re set the alarm if it causes a nuisance.

If you require our help please contact us.

Tell us:

  • Your Name, Address, and a contact telephone number
  • Whether you wish to register key holder details or report an alarm which is sounding
  • The address of the premises where the alarm is sounding

We will advise you of the reference number of your report, which you should quote if you contact us again about this matter.

People install intruder alarms on their properties to protect their home and their personal belongings within. Having an alarm fitted may deter uninvited visitors from trying to gain access to your property.

Alarm sirens or bells can be very noisy things and if sounding for long periods of time can cause nuisance to neighbours  There are many reasons for an alarm to sound e.g. if someone has tried to gain access to your property without permission, there is a power cut or the alarm system is defective.  For genuine cases the sounding alarm can be accepted however when alarms go off in other circumstances it is not acceptable.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 allows Councils to turn off intruder alarms if they are causing a nuisance. An alarm, which has been sounding for more than twenty minutes continuously or 1 hour intermittently and is affecting residents, is deemed to be a nuisance. Once a nuisance has been established we then take action to have the alarm silenced.

What we do

If the Environmental Protection Team receives a complaint of a sounding alarm we do everything possible to find the owners or occupiers of the premises where the alarm is sounding. We liaise with the Police and neighbours. If the owner or occupier has been located we allow a reasonable time for them to deactivate the alarm.

When We Can't Locate the Owner or Occupier

If the owner or occupier has not been found, we can apply to the Courts to enter the property to deactivate the alarm. We take every care not to cause damage and use specialist companies contracted to us to open doors. If it is not possible to unlock a door we may have to break a window.

We will always attempt to silence an alarm without entering a property -- it will depend on the circumstances e.g. if the alarm bell can be accessed and silenced from the outside. This would always be our preferred course of action.

 The Precautions We Take

After entering a property we must ensure that we leave it secured. If locks are damaged we will replace the damaged locks of equal or better quality.

Whenever we enter a property and leave it secured we leave a notice to inform the owner or occupier. The Police are informed of the action we take so that owners or occupiers who return to their properties to find that we have silenced the alarm can immediately be informed of the action and the reason for it.

Collecting new keys

If locks have been changed the Owners or occupiers can claim their new keys immediately by presenting themselves at Civic Offices with valid identification and proof of ownership or occupation of the property (a drivers licence is suitable).

We will recover our costs from the owner or occupiers of the property for taking the above action, this will include all costs such as, officer time, electricians and locksmiths costs.

Our policy is to:

  • Always attempt to find the owner or occupier of the property.
  • Give the owner or occupier a reasonable time to deactivate the alarm.
  • Take care not to cause damage to the property.
  • Never leave a property unsecured after we have entered it.
  • Take the most appropriate action to minimise disturbance to residents.
  • Make every effort to inform the owner or occupier of our actions.

What you can do

Ensure that your alarm has an automatic cut out device fitted.  Every alarm installation must be fitted with a working cut-out device. This cut-out device must stop the alarm being heard by people living or working near the property

within 20 minutes from the start of the alarm sounding. After that time, security can be maintained by a flashing light. Automatic re-setting is not suitable if it results in the alarm sounding for 20 minutes, stopping, re-setting and then starting making noise again. All bells or sirens must be covered by the cut-out device. For example, if you have an internal siren plus an external bell, then both should be connected through the cut-out. All reputable alarm companies will know the correct type of system to install.

You can also register nominated key holder with the Council such as family, relatives, friends or neighbours who live close by. This is a good idea if you are going away on holidays or if you are away from your home for long periods of time.  This means that if your house alarm sounds we can check our key holder database and contact the key holder to have the alarm deactivated in your absence.

You can download a copy of the Alarm Keyholder  registration form by clicking here

We are currently unable to provide an emergency call out service to deal with alarms which activate in the evening or at weekends, however we ensure that reports of such problems receive prompt attention on the next working day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to tell anyone about having a burglar alarm fitted?
In Newcastle the answer is no. However there are certain circumstances in which you must i.e. if the Local Authority have declared an area whereby you must register nominated keyholder(s) details. 

My neighbour's house alarm was going off last night for two hours. I want to make sure it doesn't happen again.
All alarms should be fitted with a 20 minute cut-out device. If this was happening for two hours, the alarm may be faulty. A warning letter can be sent to the occupiers of the property about the action that the Council may take if it happens again and if a nuisance is witnessed by an environmental health officer (EHO). If it happens again you should contact us while the alarm is sounding (Council’s out of hours service)

There's an alarm going off next door and I think the residents are away on holiday. Can the council stop the alarm?
Environmental health officers will contact key holders first and ask them to attend to the alarm. Alternatively they may have to obtain a warrant to break into the property to disable the alarm. The property will be left properly secured. Any costs incurred (i.e. locksmith's, electricians and Officers etc) will have to be paid by the owner or occupier. 

There is a car alarm going off, can it be stopped?
See Vehicle, Machinery and Equipment in the street (inc Vehicle Alarms) 

There is an alarm going off in a business which I live close to, but the business is boarded up?
If you are bothered by an alarm either at home or at work, the Council may still be able to help depending on the circumstances.  An intruder alarm in a business premises is treated the same as in a residential premises.  However if the alarm sounding in a business premises is a fire alarm then this makes things more difficult.

The Council do not have the same powers to deal with Fire alarms as they are not included in the legislation mentioned above.

My neighbours alarm has been going off randomly over the last 6months, can you deal with this?
In our experience, we would suggest that you approach your neighbour and advise them of the problem. Tell them when it goes off, the duration of it sounding and also how it affects you and your family.  Also mention if other neighbours have spoke to you about it and how it affects them.  By taking this informal approach it can lead to better relations between you and your neighbours. If you do not feel you can do this yourself we can speak to the owner of the property and give advice to help alleviate the problem.

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